After more than 100 years in the business, the U.S. agency is finally entering the futuristic age of interstellar communication.
A NASA mission taking to the skies next month aims to test new lasers for high-speed transmission between Earth and other planets.
In addition to exploring space, the “Super-Titan” spacecraft is tasked with testing new technology that could eventually provide a continuous internet connection in deep space.
“This is a radical advancement in radio telecommunications,” NASA Chief Executive Charles Bolden said. “The NASA Super-Titan Laser Communication Demonstration is building upon numerous successful experiments to explore the next generation of ground- and space-based radio communications, which could have profound implications for propulsion systems, imaging, navigation, Earth observation and many other fields.”
A mobile relay station in California will be used to send the signals around the globe from Earth. The relay station on “Super-Titan” will be able to travel 4,300 miles around the sun, NASA said.
The space agency will also look at satellite signals being sent between Mercury and Earth, and between Earth and other worlds, in order to create a metric to measure these interplanetary flows of data.
NASA is testing laser communications to understand how laser beams could allow communications in the far reaches of space.
“The potential uses of optical communications is enormous,” said Luca Parmitano, the project manager for Super-Titan, which is scheduled to launch April 14 from Space Launch Complex-4 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. “Laser communications can be used to transmit data at incredible speeds, with transmission latency of only a few hundred nanoseconds.”
On Earth, data is transferred between the Earth and communication satellites at speeds of as much as 22,000 megabits per second, NASA said.
Super-Titan mission could increase communication, sofas and other devices on other planets. It’s expected to significantly improve transfer speeds by transmitting information at between 50 and 100 quadrillion bits per second.