NASA plan to launch an orbiter this week that will bring broadband capabilites to the moon. The orbiter, which is called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), has on board technology to enable two-way laser communication between the moon and Earth.
Nasa explained this technology by saying, “Using a small and lightweight telescope, LLCD will transmit hundreds of millions of laser pulses each second to one of three stations on Earth — each of which was chosen for its cloud-free skies.”
Bad weather can interrupt the laser signals, hence the need for the stations to be in locations with cloud-free skies. It is no surprise that the stations are located in New Mexico, California and Spain, all of which are known for their sunny climates.
For the connection to work and data to be transferred, the space and ground terminals locate each other and then the two can communicate through illumination beams.
The New Scientist reported on the technology by saying, “LADEE will carry a laser with a near-infrared wavelength that is thousands of times shorter, as part of the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration experiment. LLCD will beam signals to Earth at 622 megabits per second, six times as fast as is currently possible from the moon.”
This technology will allow Earth to receive information from the moon within seconds. This is a big improvement when you consider that in 1968, when the first photo was taken from the moon, it took several days for the image to reach Earth.
NASA plan to operate LLCD just for the first month of the mission but this is only the beginning of what it has in store for the future.