Wireless broadband to the moon

May 26, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, working with NASA last fall, demonstrated for the first time that a data communication technology exists that can provide space dwellers with the connectivity we all enjoy here on Earth, enabling large data transfers and even high-definition video streaming.

This technology could bring high-speed broadband to the moon for future generations that might live on the moon. At CLEO: 2014, the team will present new details and the first comprehensive overview of the on-orbit performance of their record-shattering laser-based communication uplink between the moon and Earth, which beat the previous record transmission speed last fall by a factor of 4,800. Earlier reports have stated what the team accomplished, but have not provided the details of the implementation.

"This will be the first time that we present both the implementation overview and how well it actually worked," says Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. "The on-orbit performance was excellent and close to what we'd predicted, giving us confidence that we have a good understanding of the underlying physics," Stevens says.

This is a computer-aided design drawing of the optical module on the satellite showing the telescope and gimbal (pivoted support).
Credit: NASA.