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Current Affairs

NASA’s LCRD

Date: 09 December 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) has been launched by NASA. It is first-ever laser communications system of NASA.

 

Background

Currently, NASA makes use of radio frequency communications to send data. The LCRD will help in testing optical communication in space.

 

Details

  • The use of Optical communications will increase the bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems.

  • If the technology has been successfully implemented, NASA can implement laser communications on more missions.

 

The working

  • The LCRD is made up of two optical terminals; one will receive data from a user spacecraft, and the other will transmit data to ground stations. 

  • The digital data will be translated into laser signals by using modems. Encoded beams of light will be used to transmit data.

 

Comparison with radio

  • Communication through radio waves and Laser is through use of different wavelengths of light. Laser makes use of infrared, which has shorter wavelength than radio waves.

  • The transmission time in Laser communication will be shorter in comparison to radio communication.

  • The speed of data sent by LCRD using Laser communication will be 1.2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps).

 

Other advantages

  • In comparison to radio instruments, optical communication systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power.

  • The communication capabilities of mission will enhance tremendously with dual use of radio and optical communications.

 

Hosting

The LCRD system will be taken to space onboard the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6).

 

Testing

  • Communication using LCRD will be done by engineers at the LCRD mission’s ground stations in California and Hawaii.

  • The team will transmit data using radio communications and the LCRD will reply using optical signals.