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NASA to attempt high-speed laser transmission to the Moon
Friday, 30 August 2013 14:09

NASA plans to find out if two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible. If NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) mission succeeds, 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space could become possible in the future.

Radio frequency (RF) communication has been the communications platform in space used so far. But RF is reaching its limit just as demand for more data capacity continues to increase.

“LLCD is designed to send six times more data from the moon using a smaller transmitter with 25 percent less power as compared to the equivalent state-of-the-art radio (RF) system,” said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager. “Lasers are also more secure and less susceptible to interference and jamming.”

The LLCD experiment, developed by MIT, is hosted aboard NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) — a 100-day robotic mission designed, built, integrated, tested and to be operated by NASA’s Ames Research Center. LADEE will attempt to confirm whether dust caused a mysterious glow on the lunar horizon astronauts observed during several Apollo missions and explore the moon’s tenuous, exotic atmosphere.

Launch of the LADEE spacecraft is set for September aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. It will take 30 days to reach the lunar orbit, when LLCD will begin operation for 30 days.

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