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Netflix On The Moon? Broadband Makes It To Deep Space : The Two-Way : NPR

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"Our Internet is completely powered by pulsed lasers that run through optical fibers in big cities," says Don Cornwell, project manager for at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Lasers are fast and can send huge amounts of data a long way. But doing it from space presents a problem: Ever tried to steady a laser pointer during a presentation?

"Try doing it over 400,000 kilometers," Cornwell says

That's just what Cornwell and his colleagues from the MIT's Lincoln Laboratory have done. They put a laser transmitter built at MIT aboard a probe called the Lunar and Atmospheric Dust Environment Explorer, which is currently orbiting the moon. Using some very precisely aimed telescopes on Earth, they've been able to send and receive data at broadband speeds.

Amazing. I wonder how much harder it would be to transmit to Mars.

More here on the timeline:

"The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it," said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities."

LLCD is a short-duration experiment and the precursor to NASA's long-duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). LCRD is a part of the agency's Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. It is scheduled to launch in 2017.

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