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posted by janrinok on Tuesday November 30 2021, @06:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the weaponisation-coming-soon dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Our televisions and computer screens display news, movies, and shows in high-definition, allowing viewers a clear and vibrant experience. Fiber optic connections send laser light densely packed with data through cables to bring these experiences to users.

NASA and commercial aerospace companies are applying similar technologies to space communications, bringing optical speeds to the final frontier. Free-space optical communications leverages recent advancements in telecommunications to allow spacecraft to send high-resolution images and videos over laser links.

"Free-space" refers to the absence of the insulated, fiber optic cables that enable the terrestrial internet. Free-space laser communications flow freely through the vacuum of space, however atmosphere poses unique challenges to communications engineers.

NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will send data to and from ground stations and, eventually, in-space user missions over laser links.

"LCRD leverages the work done in the telecommunications industry for the past several decades. We're taking the concepts that they've created and applying them to space," said Russ Roder, product design lead for LCRD's optical module. "The trick is that we have to optimize the technology for space."

LCRD's mission will be spent proving out the technology by testing laser communications capabilities with experiments from NASA, other government agencies, academia, and—in particular—the commercial aerospace community. Industry-developed experiments will allow companies to test their own technologies, software, and capabilities. NASA is providing these opportunities to grow the body of knowledge surrounding laser communications and promote its operational use.

New Ground Station Brings Laser Communications Closer to Reality

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New Ground Station Brings Laser Communications Closer to Reality 3 comments

Optical communications, transmitting data using infrared lasers, has the potential to help NASA return more data to Earth than ever. The benefits of this technology to exploration and Earth science missions are huge. In support of a mission to demonstrate this technology, NASA recently completed installing its newest optical ground station in Haleakala, Hawaii.

The state-of-the-art ground station, called Optical Ground Station 2 (OGS-2), is the second of two optical ground stations to be built that will collect data transmitted to Earth by NASA's Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). Launching in early 2021, this trailblazing mission will be the linchpin in NASA's first operational optical communications relay system. While other NASA efforts have used optical communications, this will be NASA's first relay system using optical entirely, giving NASA the opportunity to test this method of communications and learn valuable lessons from its implementation. Relay satellites create critical communications links between science and exploration missions and Earth, enabling these missions to transmit important data to scientists and mission managers back home.

Not as sexy as orbital death lasers, but still pretty neat.

Original Submission

Starlink’s Inter-Satellite Laser Links Are Setting New Record With 42 Million GB Per Day 13 comments

SpaceX's laser system for Starlink is delivering over 42 petabytes of data for customers per day, an engineer revealed today. That translates into 42 million gigabytes.

"We're passing over terabits per second [of data] every day across 9,000 lasers," SpaceX engineer Travis Brashears said today at SPIE Photonics West, an event in San Francisco focused on the latest advancements in optics and light.

[...] Although Starlink uses radio waves to beam high-speed internet to customers, SpaceX has also been outfitting the company's satellites with a "laser link" system to help drive down latency and improve the system's global coverage.

[...] Brashears also said Starlink's laser system was able to connect two satellites over 5,400 kilometers (3,355 miles) apart. The link was so long "it cut down through the atmosphere, all the way down to 30 kilometers above the surface of the Earth," he said, before the connection broke.

"Another really fun fact is that we held a link all the way down to 122 kilometers while we were de-orbiting a satellite," he said. "And we were able to downstream the video."

[...] For the future, SpaceX plans on expanding its laser system so that it can be ported and installed on third-party satellites. The company has also explored beaming the satellite lasers directly to terminals on the Earth's surface to deliver data. But Brashears said a "deeper study" is necessary to enable the technology.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30 2021, @06:46PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30 2021, @06:46PM (#1200931)

    Watch Haiti beat 'em to the punch

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30 2021, @11:11PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30 2021, @11:11PM (#1201012)

      I don't get it.

  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Wednesday December 01 2021, @04:05PM (1 child)

    by crafoo (6639) on Wednesday December 01 2021, @04:05PM (#1201167)

    you mean, do what SpaceX is doing right now with their laser links between satellites? does NASA really need to spend money to demonstrate what someone else is already doing? maybe they should go back to doing what NASA is good at: killing astronauts and having their program managers cover it up.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01 2021, @10:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01 2021, @10:52PM (#1201298)

      You are one bitter person.

      As of course all technology begins and ends with SpaceX, why does anybody do anything? We are all merely the dog excrement that Elon scrapes off the bottom of his shoe was he exits a Delaware courtroom. You mean SpaceX has all of their systems linked with optical terminals? Oh, they don't? Oh. NASA is doing it to/from the ground, and SpaceX is doing that too? Oh, they're not? And NASA has already demonstrated doing it from the fucking lunar orbit? Surely SpaceX is doing that too? No?

      How about you take a chill pill and go pleasure yourself in front of your Muskie Tiger Beat poster. You'll feel better afterwards.