Monday, January 21, 2013

The Mona Lisa test for LADEE communications

The laser communications link between Goddard Space Flight Center and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is already a record-breaker. More information has been returned to Earth from LRO through the high-capacity of laser light than all other deep space missions combined.

Later this year, the last of the original Constellation unmanned precursor missions, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will be launched from Wallops Island. The success of this small but advanced lunar atmosphere explorer will depend on its laser link. It's integral to its efficient mission design.

As a demonstration and test of that link, NASA recently put its nearly four year old laser link with LRO through its paces, beaming up and returning a facsimile of Leonard da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

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