NASA's Testing Laser Internet. In Space. Laser. Space. Internet.

Illustration for article titled NASAs Testing Laser Internet. In Space. Laser. Space. Internet.

Like I needed another reason to be jealous of astronauts. Looks like those short guys in white suits will be the first to play with 100Mbps laser-powered internet. We'll be getting our Mars-porn about 20 times faster, thank God.

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This new system, which will be tested over the next few years, will bring ultra high-speed internet to the far reaches of the galaxy. With traditional RF radios it takes about 90 minutes for a hi-res image to be beamed back to us from Mars. With this new laser-powered system, it'll take less than five. This will not only get us more imagery and faster from our deep-space probes, but it could be used to avert a potentially critical situation that a Mars rover could get itself into.

The new system will require a host of telescopes, lasers, mirrors, tracking equipment, and a bunch of other serious gear. Relay satellites and receiving stations will be scattered across the earth, in case bad weather at one site prevents good communication. This is NASA-only right now, but hey, so was velcro once upon a time. If things go well and these systems turn out to be scalable, we could potentially see this become the new satellite internet technology (our current options aren't so speedy). I don't know how practical it would be, considering how lasers and clouds don't play nicely, but I want it. Laser internet just sounds faster. [The Register]

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Image credit: Shutterstock/Johan Swanepoel


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DISCUSSION

According to [www.wolframalpha.com] the current distance to Mars is 15.3 light minutes. The "it'll take less than five" theory must either be assuming the short window when Earth and Mars are at their closest points or that we find some sort of FTL lasers.