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What is NASA’s new communications system LCRD?

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 09, Dec 2021
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NASA has launched its new Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD).

  • It is the agency’s first-ever laser communications system.
  • The LCRD will help the agency test optical communication in space.

About LCRD:

LCRD is a technology demonstration that will pave the way for future optical communications missions.

  • The LCRD payload is hosted onboard the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite 6 (STPSat-6).
  • It will be in a geosynchronous orbit, over 35,000km above Earth.

Advantages of optical communications systems:

Optical communications systems are smaller in size, weight, and require less power compared with radio instruments.

  • A smaller size means more room for science instruments.
  • Less weight means a less expensive launch.
  • Less power means less drain on the spacecraft’s batteries.
  • With optical communications supplementing radio, missions will have unparalleled communications capabilities.

Laser VS radio: Laser communications and radio waves use different wavelengths of light.

  • Laser uses infrared light and has a shorter wavelength than radio waves. This will help the transmission of more data in a short time.