Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interplanetary Internet Coming Soon. But What About Service Here?

NASA just figured out how to increase data transmission, including potentially internet service, 500 percent . . . to the moon and back.

According to Wired, a science and technology blog (duh), NASA successfully tested a laser based system of transmitting data.  It launched a probe that traveled almost a quarter of a million miles (the approximate distance to the moon) and fired a laser at it.  The test worked.  Data streamed successfully to and from the probe.

One of the major hurdles to interplanetary space flight lay in reliance on radio waves for data transmission. While radio waves are, essentially, as fast as lasers (both traveling at light speed), radio transmission requires more power and energy to transmit.  It also needs larger surfaces to "catch" signals from farther away.

Laser transmissions can also carry a broader range of information, such as 3 D videos.

The downside to laser transmission lies in the precision needed.  Radio waves broaden out from the source.  Lasers remain tightly focused in a small beam.  Imagine a pitcher trying to hit a catcher's mitt from ten million miles away.

Google, NASA, and others look to the future and plan for an interplanetary internet.

Meanwhile, West Virginians are also looking for reliable high speed access.  But problems with government waste may be standing in the way.  Perhaps the best business and research minds in rural states with spotty access should take note of this latest development and see if it could help.

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