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posted by janrinok on Tuesday May 31 2022, @05:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the lag-is-a-killer-tho dept.

CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA's Fastest Laser Link from Space:

NASA's Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) mission, carrying the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) system, will debut on May 25 [for a 6-month experiment] as part of SpaceX's Transporter-5 rideshare launch. TBIRD will showcase the high-data-rate capabilities of laser communications from a CubeSat in low-Earth orbit. At 200 gigabits per second (Gbps), TBIRD will downlink data at the highest optical rate ever achieved by NASA.

NASA primarily uses radio frequency to communicate with spacecraft, but with sights set on human exploration of the Moon and Mars and the development of enhanced scientific instruments, NASA needs more efficient communications systems to transmit significant amounts of data. With more data, researchers can make profound discoveries. Laser communications substantially increases data transport capabilities, offering higher data rates and more information packed into a single transmission.

"TBIRD is a game changer and will be very important for future human exploration and science missions." said Andreas Doulaveris, TBIRD's mission systems engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

With a single seven-minute pass at 200 Gbps, TBIRD will send back terabytes of data and give NASA more insight into the capabilities of laser communications. The addition of laser communications to spacecraft is similar to switching from dial-up to high-speed internet.

[...] In the course of the mission, PTD-3 will demonstrate highly stable body pointing, meaning the spacecraft can be precisely directed toward the ground station to facilitate TBIRD's downlink demonstration. TBIRD's streamlined design does not contain any moving mechanisms, so the spacecraft's pointing ability enables the laser communications telescope's connection from space to ground. TBIRD's ground station is in Table Mountain, California, and is managed by NASA's Jet Proplusion Laboratory in Southern California.

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NASA to Test Potential 400Mbps Laser Link for Mars 15 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

NASA hopes to launch a near-infrared laser transceiver to test a system that could one day be used to communicate with astronauts on Mars.

The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment will head off into the void with Psyche, an asteroid-chasing probe that is scheduled to blast off on October 5. While they journey toward 16 Psyche, a metal-rich asteroid, the DSOC system will spend two years attempting to communicate via laser with two ground stations in Southern California.

NASA believes DSOC's near-infrared lasers can trounce the data transmission speeds achieved using radios.

"DSOC was designed to demonstrate 10 to 100 times the data-return capacity of state-of-the-art radio systems used in space today," enthused Abi Biswas, DSOC's project technologist working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "High-bandwidth laser communications for near-Earth orbit and for Moon-orbiting satellites have been proven, but deep space presents new challenges."

NASA's most recent Mars rover, Perseverance, can communicate with orbiters at two megabits per second. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can chat to Earth at between 0.5 to 4 megabits per second.

Improving those speeds by a factor of between 10 and 100 with lasers therefore has an obvious benefit – even if the pesky limit that is the speed of light means it won't allow synchronous comms with the Red Planet.

[...] "Every component of DSOC exhibits new technology – from the high-power uplink lasers to the pointing system on the transceiver's telescope and down to the exquisitely sensitive detectors that can count the single photons as they arrive," explained Bill Klipstein, the DSOC project manager at JPL. "The team even needed to develop new signal-processing techniques to squeeze information out of such weak signals transmitted over vast distances."

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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.

Related stories on SoylentNews:
Sony to Build Space Lasers With New Satellite Services Unit - 20220606
CubeSat Set to Demonstrate NASA's Fastest Laser Link from Space - 20220530
DoD Space Agency Funds Development of Laser Terminal that Connects to Multiple Satellite at Once - 20220313
Exploring Together, NASA and Industry Embrace Laser Communications - 20211130
SpaceX Paused Starlink Launches to Give its Internet Satellites Lasers - 20210826

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31 2022, @08:41PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31 2022, @08:41PM (#1249273)

    "With more data, researchers can make profound discoveries."

    Hopefully, they've gotten their shit together since they overwrote the Apollo 11
    telemetry tapes.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday May 31 2022, @09:38PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 31 2022, @09:38PM (#1249296) Journal

    Sharks are old hat.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31 2022, @11:46PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 31 2022, @11:46PM (#1249313)