The hope is that the new technology will bring high-definition web streaming from Mars.
- Laser communications could boost space data transmission rates from the speeds of dial-up to broadband.
- The demonstration will pave the way for a communications system to be included on a future satellite.
- NASA plans to test a full-size solar sail for chemical-free propulsion and a deep space atomic clock.
Hoping to do for space communications what broadband has done for the Internet, NASA is planning to fly a laser communications system, paving the way for high-definition, live TV from Mars.
There have been a few tests of optical communications before, but nothing like the planned three-year run of the Laser Communications Relay demonstration mission, one of three projects selected this week for trial runs by NASA.
The goal is to adequately demonstrate how the system works so that the technology could be included on the next science satellite or rover.
In addition to speed, optical communications system require much smaller transmitters, opening the door to all kinds of new missions by nanosatellites.