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NASA Uses Laser to Transmit Data at 622 Mbps Between the Moon and Earth

NASA's Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) recently used a pulse laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a download rate of 622 Mbps. Just like your cable modem or ADSL connection, upload speeds were lower, –20 Mbps error-free from the primary ground station in New Mexico to NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft orbiting the moon.

Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation in Washington, DC said, “LLCD is the first step on our road map toward building the next generation of space communication capability. We are encouraged by the results of the demonstration to this point, and we are confident we are on the right path to introduce this new capability into operational service soon.”

Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD explained, “The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it. This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities.”

Could similar technology be used on Earth? See this week's RF Shorts for a story from West China Times on Li-Fi, a light-based communications system that uses LED light bulbs rather than lasers.