Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Laser-powered farewell to Moon mission
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Apr 29, 2014

ESA's Optical Ground Station.

Just before NASA's latest Moon mission ended last week, an ESA telescope received laser signals from the spacecraft, achieving data speeds like those used by many to watch movies at home via fibre-optic Internet.

During an intense, three-day effort starting on 1 April, ESA's Optical Ground Station in Spain received data signals via laser from the Moon at the stunning speed of 80 megabits per second.

The signals were transmitted from NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, from a distance of 400 000 km. LADEE completed its seven-month exploration and technology mission on 17 April in a planned impact on the Moon.

The speed is high enough to transmit an entire movie DVD in about eight minutes and is many times faster than provided by traditional radio links used by today's spacecraft.

Faster than traditional radio
"We had already achieved 40 Mbit/s in our first round of laser communication with LADEE in October, so we're pretty happy that the final test transmissions were able to double that," says Klaus-Juergen Schulz, responsible for tracking station engineering at ESA's ESOC operations centre.

"We also demonstrated that we could transmit laser signals to LADEE and even obtain highly accurate range data, just like our traditional but much larger radio tracking stations can. Overall, the test series has been a big success."

ESA's station in Spain's Canary Islands was equipped with advanced technology developed in Switzerland, France and Denmark that could communicate with LADEE using infrared laser beams.

LADEE makes history
LADEE made space history on 18 October 2013, just weeks after its September launch, when it made the first-ever laser transmission from lunar orbit, picked up by a NASA station at White Sands, New Mexico, USA.

The final ESA-NASA tests capped European participation in NASA's project to test laser communications for space missions.

Laser communications in the near-infrared may be the way of the future when it comes to downloading massive amounts of data from spacecraft orbiting Earth, Mars or even more distant planets.

maller and lighter laser light
Laser units are lighter and smaller than today's onboard radio systems, promising to cut mission costs and provide increased return of science data.

To achieve the 80 Mbit/s, ESA's station was upgraded with a new prototype detector built by France's research and development Institute CEA-Leti.

ESA will now refine the European laser communication technology to support live tests in the near future with other missions. These include NASA's OPALS system, recently delivered to the International Space Station, and Japan's Small Optical Transponder for Micro-Satellite mission.

"To deploy laser communication technology in space, cooperation is vital," says Zoran Sodnik, ESA's project manager for laser communications.

"There are not yet so many ground stations equipped to participate, and it's extremely positive for ESA to be involved right from the start. It's definitely one solution to achieve the extremely high data rates that will be required in the future."

More information on the laser communication project


Related Links
General Support Technology Programme (GSTP)
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Steering chemical reactions with laser pulses
Vienna, Austria (SPX) Apr 25, 2014
Usually, chemical reactions just take their course, much like a ball rolling downhill. However, it is also possible to deliberately control chemical reactions: at the Vienna University of Technology, molecules are hit with femtosecond laser pulses, changing the distribution of electrons in the molecule. This interaction is so short that at first it does not have any discernable influence on the ... read more

John C. Houbolt, Unsung Hero of the Apollo Program, Dies at Age 95

NASA Completes LADEE Mission with Planned Impact on Moon's Surface

Russia plans to get a foothold in the Moon

Russian Federal Space Agency is elaborating Moon exploration program

Mars Rover Switches to Driving Backwards Due to Elevated Wheel Currents

Mission to Mars

Traces of recent water on Mars

Drill Here? NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Inspects Site

Orion Exploration Design Challenge Winner Announced

Orion Feels the Vibe During Tests at Kennedy Space Center

NASA Partners with LittleBits Electronics on STEM Activitie

China village gunning for tourists

China issues first assessment on space activities

China launches experimental satellite

Tiangong's New Mission

"Space Odyssey": China's aspiration in future space exploration

NASA Seeks to Evolve ISS for New Commercial Opportunities

Astronauts Complete Short Spacewalk to Replace Backup Computer

No Official Confirmation of NASA Severing Ties with Russian Space Agency

Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk as Mission Managers Evaluate Busy Schedule

It's a "go" for Arianespace's Vega launch with Kazakhstan's first Earth observation satellite

Arianespace to launch Indonesia satellite BRIsat

Commercial liftoff for Europe's smallest launcher

Russia sends two satellites into space

Alien planet's rotation speed clocked for first time

Seven Samples from the Solar System's Birth

Astronomical Forensics Uncover Planetary Disks in NASA's Hubble Archive

An Earth-sized planet that might hold liquid water

Training range simulators in Britain, Canada getting support from Cubic

ViaSat Awarded Damages in Patent Infringement and Breach of Contract Lawsuit Against Space Systems/Loral

Laser-powered farewell to Moon mission

Element 117 confirmed by scientists, closer to being officially named

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.