Published on: December 9, 2021
LASER COMMUNICATIONS RELAY DEMONSTRATION
NASA launched its new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) — the agency’s first-ever laser communications system — from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
- LCRD will demonstrate all of the advantages of using laser systems and allow learn how to use them best operationally
- LCRD has two optical terminals – one to receive data from a user spacecraft, and the other to transmit data to ground stations.
- The modems will translate the digital data into laser signals. This will then be transmitted via encoded beams of light.
- Capabilities make LCRD NASA’s first two-way, end-to-end optical relay, the agency said in a release.
- Payload is hosted onboard the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6)
- Will be in a geosynchronous orbit, over 35,000km above Earth.
- For the first two years, LCRD will test its communications capabilities. It will be controlled by engineers at the LCRD mission’s ground stations in California and Hawaii. The team will send test data through radio frequency signals and the LCRD will reply using optical signals.
FACT BOX : LASER VS RADIO
- Laser communications and radio waves use different wavelengths of light
- Laser uses infrared light and has a shorter wavelength than radio waves
- This will help the transmission of more data in a short time
- Using infrared lasers, LCRD will send data to Earth at 1.2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps). At this speed, it will take less than a minute to download a movie.
- Optical communications systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power compared with radio instruments.