Impatient boffins will be able to download high resolution images and video from space probes in mere minutes if a newly approved NASA trial proves successful.
The space agency has rubber-stamped a trial of one of its projects – a laser-based communications system – which is theoretically capable of shifting up to 100Mb/s from spacecraft poking around the furthest corners of the solar system.
NASA’s current space communications and data transfers are done on radio frequency (RF) systems. The RF systems’ data transmission rates mean that it takes 90 minutes for a single high-resolution image to be beamed back to Earth from Mars. The new laser-based system would allow 100Mbps data rates instead of 6Mbps, allowing a image to be transmitted in five minutes.
“Just as the home internet user hit the wall with dial-up, NASA is approaching the limit of what its existing communications network can handle,” said Dave Israel, who will lead the project.
Full story: NASA to trial laser-powered space broadband