coondoggie writes: "On its current space scouting mission, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is using a pumped up communications device to deliver 461 gigabytes of data and images per day, at a rate of up to 100 Mbps.
As the first high data rate K-band transmitter to fly on a NASA spacecraft, the 13-inch-long tube, called a Traveling Wave Tube Amplifier, is making it possible for NASA scientists to receive massive amounts of images and data about the moon's surface and environment.
The amplifier was built by L-3 Communications Electron Technologies in conjunction with NASA's Glenn Research Center. The device uses electrodes in a vacuum tube to amplify microwave signals to high power. It's ideal for sending large amounts of data over a long distance because it provides more power and more efficiency than its alternative, the transistor amplifier, NASA stated.
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