NASA satellite to attempt laser communication speed record

NASA satellite to attempt laser communication speed record

The CubeSat will send terabytes of data to test laser communication from space.

A tiny, gold-coated satellite lifted off from Earth on Wednesday with a pretty big goal in mind for NASA: to transmit data at the fastest rate ever achieved by space lasers.

The space agency’s TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) system was launched aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-5 rideshare mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. TBIRD is responsible for the downlink of 200 gigabits of data per second, in what would be the highest optical throughput achieved by a laser link from space, according to at NASA.

NASA currently relies on an old reliable communications network that was built in 1958 to communicate with its various spacecraft and other space assets. Called Deep Space Network, it is a worldwide network of antennas that sends and receives radios.frequency emissions. These transmissions travel between one of three ground communication facilities and the various target satellites, spacecraft and space robots.

But while the space agency is considering other destinations like March and a long duration back to the moon, he seriously needs to work on his communication skills. According to NASA, switching from radio frequency transmissions to laser communication would be like switching from dial-up access to high-speed Internet. “TBIRD is a game-changer and will be very important for future human and scientific exploration missions,” Andreas Doulaveris, TBIRD mission systems engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

TBIRD is about the same size as a box of tissues, and it was integrated into a CubeSat – the Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 – which is no bigger than two cereal boxes stacked on top of each other. The The device was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington and funded by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program. During an upcoming seven-minute test in low Earth orbit, TBIRD will attempt to transmit data to a NASA-operated optical ground station; the test will require TBIRD to aim the laser precisely at the ground receiver, located in Table Mountain, California.

Illustration of TBIRD downlink data on laser links to Optical Earth Station 1 in California.  (Not drawn to scale)

Here’s how it works: Infrared lasers transmit data through optical terminals by encoding a message into an optical signal that is transmitted to a receiver. This method of transmitting data to and from space is considered faster and more secure. The brief test will provide NASA engineers with insight into laser communication capabilities. TBIRD is designed to operate for a period of six months in low Earth orbit, from where it will transmit its revolutionary lasers.

“Small spacecraft continue to prove themselves to be vital building blocks for larger and more complicated missions,” Roger Hunter, Small Spacecraft Technology program manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a statement.

l based on spaceaser communication seems to be the way of the future. Earlier this month, two military satellites exchanged more than 200 gigabits of data over a distance of about 60 miles (100 kilometers), in an achievement that could herald the construction of an entire satellite constellation.

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