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Communications Moon NASA Technology

Quad Lasers Deliver Fast, Earth-Based Internet To the Moon 131

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-latency dept.
A joint project involving NASA and MIT researchers had demonstrated technology last year that could supply a lunar colony with broadband via lasers ("faster Internet access than many U.S. homes get") and has already demonstrated its worth in communications with spacecraft. From ComputerWorld's article: "The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) kicked off last September with the launch of NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer), a research satellite [formerly] orbiting the moon. NASA built a laser communications module into LADEE for use in the high-speed wireless experiment. LLCD has already proved itself, transmitting data from LADEE to Earth at 622Mbps (bits per second) and in the other direction at 19.44Mbps, according to MIT. It beat the fastest-ever radio communication to the moon by a factor of 4,800." Communicating at such distances means overcoming various challenges; one of the biggest is the variability in Earth's atmosphere. The LLCD didn't try to power through the atmosphere at only one spot, therefore, but used four separate beams in the New Mexico desert, each aimed "through a different column of air, where the light-bending effects of the atmosphere are slightly different. That increased the chance that at least one of the beams would reach the receiver on the LADEE. Test results [were] promising, according to MIT, with the 384,633-kilometer optical link providing error-free performance in both darkness and bright sunlight, through partly transparent thin clouds, and through atmospheric turbulence that affected signal power." At the CLEO: 2014 conference in June, researchers will provide a comprehensive explanation of how it worked.
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Quad Lasers Deliver Fast, Earth-Based Internet To the Moon

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    gaming's going to suck

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Astronauts tend to be educated with plenty of intelligence and over 12 so I doubt many will play Call of Duty. Games like Civilization 5 however are perfect. :)

    • by Lennie (16154)

      Exactly, more bandwidth could be less important than latency:
      http://pandawhale.com/post/396... [pandawhale.com]

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well since the dominating factor in earth-moon communication is the speed of light with 2.6 seconds round trip you'll never have decent latency anyway, for the same reason we'll never have global FPS servers working well. Halfway around the the earth (20000 km) with light going about 2/3c in fiber optics is 100 ms just here on earth. And Mars is 8-40 minutes away round trip, which is a far more likely site for a colony. That said, if you were stuck in a cramped little base - the initial versions will probab

        • by Lennie (16154)

          For Mars and so on, you'll need something else:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Something like TCP just won't cut it.

        • by mgcarley (735176)

          Only 2.6 seconds? I've used Internet services on more than one continent that have had things so badly configured my ping times - even to servers like 8.8.8.8 - were more than a minute. Even recently in the US I was using something that gave me pings of 13 or 14 seconds to Google or OpenDNS or something.

      • Telnetting to the moon
        Let me play amoung delays
        Let me see what lag is like
        On jupiter and mars

        on "Fly me to the moon" from F.Sinatra

    • by Lisias (447563)

      gaming's going to suck

      On the other hand, PR0N is going to rock! :-)

      • by arth1 (260657)

        On the other hand, PR0N is going to rock! :-)

        Low gravity boobs and ceiling stains?

    • that's OK. there's a data cap of 10Mb/month.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday May 25, 2014 @02:52PM (#47088453)

    "faster Internet access than many U.S. homes get"

    That's not hard to do. In the United States, our high speed Internet is much like our high speed rail...

    The moon, eh? This will be important when we get around to mining the moon into a block of Swiss cheese for whatever mineral riches it possesses. I predict China will be the first, and we Americans will follow soon after they have opened the door.

    • by elsuperjefe (1487639) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:12PM (#47088563) Homepage

      ...

      The moon, eh? This will be important when we get around to mining the moon into a block of Swiss cheese for whatever mineral riches it possesses. I predict China will be the first, and we Americans will follow soon after they have opened the door.

      cheese is not at all popular in China. i predict the French will pioneer this mining effort, or maybe the Swiss... not sure.

    • It takes 2.4 seconds for light to make a round-trip to the moon. With that kind of added latency, it's not going to feel high-speed, especially with 'modern' javascript web apps that make multiple sequential round-trips for each page.
      • With that kind of added latency, it's not going to feel high-speed...

        Clearly we are going to have to build a large server farm on the Moon if the users there expect to stream Netflix.

        • Clearly we are going to have to build a large server farm on the Moon if the users there expect to stream Netflix.

          Indeed. When working on a large project like this, I always suggest focusing on the most important parts first.

        • by Imrik (148191)

          Not necessary, streaming is mostly bandwidth dependent, not latency dependent. It might take an extra few seconds before your show starts but that's fairly inconsequential. Browsing the web and playing games are far more problematic.

      • At some point, if there are enough consumers living beyond Earth orbit to commercially matter to normal web sites (or their future equivalent), the most logical step would be to allow web applications to bundle themselves and their data in a way that allows the web app ITSELF to be automatically deployed to a remote virtual server closer to the end user & sync its mirror of the database with the authoritative one back on earth (multicasting most of the replicated data from earth to elsewhere & cachi

  • Beam me up.

  • by waddgodd (34934) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @02:55PM (#47088477) Homepage Journal

    So show of hands here, who has a 622 Mbps at home? That's right, as of this article, your "last mile" officially sucks more than LADEE's last 250,000 miles

  • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @02:56PM (#47088485)

    their last one [youtube.com]

  • and then $10 per each 50GB over that.

  • Obsolete Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by craighansen (744648) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:06PM (#47088539)

    Readers here should know that LADEE was crashed into the moon more than a month ago. Yes, NASA did research on laser communication using LADEE, but reporting it in present tense is misleading. (...and the last Slashdot article on LADEE incorrectly reported where it crashed.) Previous Slashdot articles already reported the laser communication research.

    • by phizi0n (1237812)

      This article was submitted through the crashed LADEE so it took a while for it to align with Earth perfectly for us to finally receive it.

    • by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot

      You're right. I've updated the article to correct the tenses. Thanks.

  • Let's be realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhiteZook (3647835) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:09PM (#47088549)
    NASA can't even afford a decent space telescope, so why would anybody think they can afford to build a lunar colony that would require such as laser system ?
    • I don't think anyone at NASA thinks that it will be NASA to benefit from this research. The US government's research projects are generally funded to provide pioneering foreward looking technologies that no private company would invest in developing until 10+ years from now. So that way when private industry does need that technologythey already have something to get started from.

      The one exception of course is development of new weapons and military systems.

    • Newt [go.com] keep up on events without streaming Fox News?
    • When it comes to space related projects there needs to be a return on the investment to bolster future funding. Even "vapor" returns can provide the political cover necessary to increase funding. The money NASA has spent over the years has returned a wealth of technological data but nothing that could realistically cover the initial project expense. However, over the years NASA has received funding regardless of the expected return on the investment. If someone wants to mine helium 3 on the moon it should b

  • Earth-based? As opposed to what, Internet from Mars?

  • Why do you want to connect the moon with the Internet? There is nobody on the moon. You should rather try to establish a 24h broadband connection to the ISS, which currently doesn't exist (its only a couple of hours per day when you can make video connections to ISS).

  • Obviously, they meant Quad "Lasers".

  • It seems at this point the marketeer assault on the English language has proceeded to the point where even NASA does not understand what speed is.

    The link described is a very slow pipe by any measure, and that is imposed by the distance involved and the speed of light itself. It is the dimension of *width* they compare, which cannot in any reasonable way be equated with speed. If 'speed' is measured by bandwidth, then it would follow that a semi tractor with two trailers is much faster than a Maserati.

    Yeah.
    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Don't be an idiot. If you have to move 75,000 pounds of freight, the semi is much faster than the Maserati.

      • by Arker (91948)
        Ãf you think that a loaded road-train is faster than a Maserati you are the idiot.

        You have to twist yourself into a pretzel to justify the marketing speak, why do you even try?
  • There's going to be hell to pay when the sharks get ahold of these things.
  • It's like HughesNet on the moon. Gaming and anything else like remote viewers (RDP, conference calling, etc) apps will suck too. It's kinda like how on CNN when you see those Satellite uplink interviews where they pause for like 5 seconds between questions and answers, except for everything. After having DirecWay on the side of my house for less than the 30 day trial period, I have a new respect for people remote controlling the rover on mars.
  • by storkus (179708) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @10:33PM (#47090307)

    Incoming power at the satellite is stated as a nanowatt. I'm pretty sure this puts it way below the threshold of most, if not all, solid state optical detectors. I'm thinking some kind of FAST photomultiplier tube, but I really have no idea. Any thoughts?

    Think of using something like this to transmit terrestrially through air of many miles/kilometers distance RELIABLY rather than the one or (if you're lucky) two you get today: it would be a godsend and could replace a LOT of metro microwave (depending on which city and its local climate, of course) without having to lay fiber. Its the unlicensed holy grail, really.

  • We have a lunar colony? Who knew?

    I suppose its symptomatic of the generation that we can't think about the logistics of a real lunar colony until we figure out how they would get their internet porn.

  • We'll get to watch the colonists in HD video as they die of radiation from a coronal mass ejection.

    I am deeply skeptical of a moon colony. I really don't think it will ever happen.

    • It could be done, but there's no reason to - it'd be one of the most expensive projects in all of human history, and for what? It's not economical to mine, there's no national pride to be had now, and the science may be valuable but not that valuable.

      We'll probably still be having this debate when someone discovers the mountain-sized rock heading towards Earth.

    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      We'll get to watch the colonists in HD video as they die of radiation from a coronal mass ejection.

      I am deeply skeptical of a moon colony. I really don't think it will ever happen.

      You are probably right.... for very small values of "ever". But given that there's probably at least a half-billion years before the sun begins to cook our part of the solar system, there's plenty of time to beat "never".

  • There is, apart from some clouds, nothing in between. Those are ideal conditions. Considering that even the radio links of the moon missions had a few megabits of channel capacity, that's not very much. (Yes those links were analog, but Shannon has showed that you can still express the capacity of such a channel in bits or shannons)

  • But wouldn't it be easier to have a satellite on earth orbit that was locked on the same apparent orbit than moon and then transmit data through that. By communicating with that satellite using radio and then from that satellite to moon using laser you wouldn't have to work the laser through the atmosphere and after you establish a stable station on moon with a line of sight to earth you would have a continuous beam channel going.

Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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