Sign In

Communications of the ACM

News

Broadband to Mars


View as: Print Mobile App ACM Digital Library In the Digital Edition Share: Send by email Share on reddit Share on StumbleUpon Share on Hacker News Share on Tweeter Share on Facebook
Broadband to Mars, illustration

Credit: NASA

In March, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its planned Orion spacecraft, which could one day carry astronauts to the Moon and Mars, will include a new kind of communication system. Typically, manned and unmanned vehicles and probes use radio waves to send and receive information. For decades, though, scientists have been pushing toward using laser-based communications in space. Lasers are no faster, but they can deliver far more information than radio waves in the same amount of time. NASA's Apollo missions to the Moon were capable of transmitting 51kb worth of data per second, for example, but Orion's planned Laser-Enhanced Mission and Navigation Operational Services (LEMNOS) system could send back more than 80 megabytes each second from the lunar surface.

That stream could be packed with rich scientific data, or it could include ultra-high-resolution video of distant worlds. Scaled-up versions of this system could dispatch movies of dust devils, storms, or even astronauts walking on the surface of Mars. During the six-month-long trip to the Red Planet, space travelers could potentially trade videos with family members back on Earth, and mitigate the psychological toll of the long journey.


 

No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.
  

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.