The Moon is set to get superfast broadband before most of rural England, including high speed internet access backwaters such as Tavistock and Wales.
NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) will create a 622Mbps link from the Earth’s natural satellite in October.
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will be able to receive data at around one-tenth of its downlink speeds.
“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 at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “Lasers are also more secure and less susceptible to interference and jamming.”
“We can even envision such a laser-based system enabling a robotic mission to an asteroid. It could have 3-D, high-definition video signals transmitted to Earth providing essentially ‘telepresence’ to a human controller on the ground.”
The LLCD mission is scheduled to launch tomorrow (September 6), and will take around a month to reach The Moon on a low-power trajectory.
LADEE will communicate to ground terminals in New Mexico, California and Tenerife, allowing regular operation despite cloudy conditions.
The 100-day mission takes laser communications 10 times further than Earth-orbiting demonstrations such as Europe’s Alphasat.
LLCD paves the way for a long-duration test in 2017, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), which will work at up to 2.88Gbps.
Ultimately, NASA wants to establish a network of laser relay satellites for ultrafast communications with probes across the Solar System.
It’s hoped that by this time, terrestrial broadband may be fast enough to enjoy high-definition 3D video from Mars or Jupiter in our homes.