Saturday, January 07, 2006

Laser Communication Link (Interplanetary) Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(New Scientist Space) A laser communication link has been made across a record 24 million kilometres (15 million miles), between the Messenger spacecraft and instruments on Earth.

The craft and the ground station transmitted pulses back and forth to each other, and although no actual information was transmitted, the experiment shows the potential for interplanetary laser links, says David Smith of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, US.

This technology will enable space craft, as well as future colonies around the solar system to communicate with each other at a higher data rate. Microwave beams are currently being used by many satellites, and although they do not require the pin point accuracy of a laser beam, they are more restrictive in the amount of data that can be sent out per second.

(New Scientist Space) Because laser beams spread much more slowly, they can deliver more power to ground-based optical receivers, allowing higher data rates. This advantage was clear as far back as 1960 when Theodore Maiman--who had just made the first laser--listed space communications as an important potential application.

This may seem like a minor "space toy," but one must realize that communication is an important tool, especially if one is traveling millions of miles away from the home world. This may also enable a future interplanetary internet to take place, as it would allow citizens of one world to surf the net of another.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

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