Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA's First Laser Communication System Integrated, Ready for Launch

15.03.2013
A new NASA-developed, laser-based space communication system will enable higher rates of satellite communications similar in capability to high-speed fiber optic networks on Earth.

The space terminal for the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), NASA's first high-data-rate laser communication system, was recently integrated onto the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. LLCD will demonstrate laser communications from lunar orbit to Earth at six times the rate of the best modern-day advanced radio communication systems.


Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) components integrated onto the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft.
Credit: NASA

"The successful testing and integration of LLCD to LADEE is a major accomplishment," said Donald Cornwell, LLCD mission manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It demonstrates that this new technology is robust and ready for space. This is the first time NASA has had such a communication system pass all its tests and be certified flight ready."

The LLCD mission will use a highly reliable infrared laser, similar to those used to bring high-speed data over fiber optic cables into our workplaces and homes. Data, sent in the form of hundreds of millions of short pulses of light every second, will be sent by the LADEE spacecraft to any one of three ground telescopes in New Mexico, California and Spain.

The real challenge of LLCD will be to point its very narrow laser beam accurately to ground stations across a distance of approximately 238,900 miles while moving. Failure to do so would cause a dropped signal or loss of communication.

"This pointing challenge is the equivalent of a golfer hitting a ‘hole-in-one' from a distance of almost five miles," said Cornwell. "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."

The LLCD mission will also serve as a pathfinder for the 2017 launch of NASA's Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD). That mission will demonstrate the long-term viability of laser communication from a geostationary relay satellite to Earth. In a geostationary orbit the spacecraft orbits at the same speed as Earth, which allows it to maintain the same position in the sky.

Engineers believe that future space missions will be able to use laser communication technology with its low mass and power requirements, to provide increased data quantity for real-time communication and 3-D high-definition video. For example, using S-band communications aboard the LADEE spacecraft would take 639 hours to download an average-length HD movie. Using LLCD technology that time would be reduced to less than eight minutes.

Prior to shipment from MIT, the LLCD spaceflight hardware was subjected to a rigorous set of flight test simulations such as the strong vibrations expected from a Minotaur V rocket, the launch vehicle for the LADEE mission. The LLCD hardware also had to withstand simulated extreme temperatures and other conditions it will experience within the harsh environment of space. Throughout this stringent battery of tests, LLCD maintained its critical alignment and stable pointing accuracy.

Flight and ground station hardware for LLCD was designed and built at Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the European Space Agency are developing the ground stations in California and Spain, respectively.

"This is an exciting time for space communications," said Cornwell. "We are about to make a leap in communications ability that is unmatched in NASA's history."

The LLCD mission management team resides at Goddard under the sponsorship of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The LADEE mission is managed by Ames under the sponsorship of NASA's Planetary Science Division within the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds LADEE, a cooperative effort led by Ames, which is responsible for managing the mission, building the spacecraft and performing mission operations. In addition to managing the LLCD payload, Goddard is responsible for managing the science instruments and the science operations center. NASA Wallops Flight Facility has the responsibility for launch vehicle integration, launch services and launch range operations. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages LADEE within the Lunar Quest Program Office.

The LADEE mission, on which LLCD is a hosted payload, is scheduled to launch in August 2013.

Dewayne Washington
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Dewayne Washington | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LADEE/news/llcd-integrated.html

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Supercomputing the emergence of material behavior
18.05.2018 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

nachricht Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss
18.05.2018 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matabele ants: Travelling faster with detours

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>