May I Be (One of?) The First ...
I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.
Only taken nearly 40 years for reality to catch up with fiction
Impatient boffins will be able to download high resolution images and video from space probes in mere minutes if a newly approved NASA trial proves successful. The space agency has rubber-stamped a trial of one of its projects - a laser-based communications system - which is theoretically capable of shifting up to 100Mb/s from …
Thanks for the '2001' reference.
"Only taken nearly 40 years for reality to catch up with fiction"
Optical comms are the easy part. The difficult part is having a computer forecasting the time of failure for a complex piece of technology. I think that 'true AI' -whatever that is- will come first.
On a side note: I' remember reading in 'The lost worlds of 2001' a complete description of an alien device that can only be described as a smartphone. Mr. A.C. Clarke was a genius.
Because you are too tight to pay for it?
If you want to spend a couple of million to get it I'm sure you could be provided with incredibly good broadband no matter where you live. In fact you probably don't even need to pay that much, just more than £5/month or whatever the current price you are paying is...
Just because you have higher speed options available for not too much more than 5 quid a month doesn't mean everyone else here does. Chances are OP would happily pay a reasonable amount for faster, reliable broadband IF IT WAS AVAILABLE. Chances are very good indeed that their broadband provider just flat out sucks and is incapable of providing a decent service at any price.
Oh sure, if you have endless supplies of cash you can get pretty much anything done. Otherwise you're stuck with what commercial providers offer, which sometimes isn't very good at all, sometimes isn't *anything* at all.
Forget communicating with interplanetary craft. This sort of bandwidth sounds ideal for multiple remote controlled robots in orbit. What you'd need to make that practical is a set of "eyes" on the robot(s) (preferably stereoscopic vision) and a real-time video link back to the ground control centre. Plus of course the less data intensive uplink to tell the robot where to wave its arms.
It's hard to see this being a go-er for much further than lunar operations, due to the latency involved, but it does sound like the first step in doing something constructive in space.
Does anyone else remember Sim City 2000? I'm thinking specifically of the satellite power stations, and the disaster that could occur if they failed and the beam of energy from space went astray, carving a fiery path through your city.
Well that was what first sprang to my mind. Pic: obvious.
I assume those smart folks at NASA have considered any impact shooting a laser at Hawaii might have on the science being done by all those telescopes there?
I'm guessing that low intensity / narrow frequency means it isn't but then looking at all the fuss about laser guide stars, surely someone will have a beef.
Since laser beams live (predominantly) within the IR, near-IR, optical, near-UV, and/or UV realms of the electromagnetic spectrum, they are much more likely to be subject to divergence or obstruction by changing atmospheric conditions.
This would probably make deployment of laser-based ground stations in areas with frequent and variable humidity/cloud cover and changing particulate pollution levels impractical in most areas on Earth. Such installations would be best deployed in the rarefied atmospheric conditions of Cerro Pachón in Chile or Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
I expect that any spacecraft that rely on laser-based broadband communications will probably still be equipped with radio transceivers as a fall-back option...
Many space probes have redundant communication features. Galileo suffered a fatal and permanent malfunction of its primary, high gain communication antenna when the HGA failed to deploy as the probe was en route to Jupiter. For the duration of the Jupiter mission, NASA had to rely on the much slower low gain antenna, which reduced the data received by 30%.
You make good points about atmospheric interference. I'm wondering how NASA intends to deal with that issue? They have several options, including using an orbiting satellite to conduct the optical communications, while communicating by radio with ground stations. The receiver/transmitter need not be physically large nor consume inordinate amounts of power.
Unless I am completely wrong - which is, of course, always possible- the tricky and time consuming bit was always getting data back from Mars, Uranus or wherever to somewhere near Earth orbit. Bandwidth from near-Earth orbit to ground (a) hasn't been a problem for a long time ( ask Sky, NSA et al ), and (b) doesn't need a laser of astronomer - or indeed of any upward looking airline pilot - blinding proportions ( ask Sky, NSA et al ).
There are a lot of satellites up there already with high bandwidth connections down to ground.
It's about time! I attended a lecture circa 1983 at the University of New Mexico discussing lasers and laser applications. The presenters said that a 5 W argon ion laser would be capable of communicating to Earth from the nearest stars. NASA successfully transmitted a laser beam that the Galileo space probe received from 6 million km distant in 1992, in its GOPEX experiment. So, progress has been slow.
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