NASA working on speedy Earth to Moon laser comm system

This Friday (September 6), NASA will launch its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft. LADEE will be fitted with a sophisticated laser comm device that will significantly speed up communications with Earth. This is a proof-of-concept mission. The biggest hurdle to overcome is relaying the data almost 240,000 miles to ground telescopes on Earth.

“This pointing challenge is the equivalent of a golfer hitting a ‘hole-in-one’ from a distance of almost five miles… Developers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory have designed a sophisticated system to cancel out the slightest spacecraft vibrations. This is in addition to dealing with other challenges of pointing and tracking the system from such a distance. We are excited about these advancements.”

Interesting stuff.

  • Jonas Ensby

    Can I just take a second and point out how worthless the golf analogy is? If it is really the equivalent of a golfer getting a hole-in-one from 5 miles, then just back up the bags and go home, because that’s impossible…

    I guess they were trying to convey the difficulty of the task, but it just makes it sound like they are planning on getting really really lucky. If it’s the equivalent of Tiger Woods hitting the hole from 10 yards away, it’s still gonna be a shitty communications experience.