NASA is finally pushing to bring space communication out of the dark ages by boosting their data transmission rates from dial-up speeds to broadband. And they're looking to do it with lasers.
What does a laser communication system mean for all of us here on Earth? How about live, HD television broadcasts from future Mars rovers and satellites?
"We're looking to bridge the gap to the next era of space communications," lead scientist David Israel — of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center — told Discovery News's Irene Klotz. "It's a key way to get us through to the next level of that technology."
The whole setup will require three optical communication ground receivers and a satellite-mounted, laser-relaying system orbiting around the Earth. One of the ground stations is already built, and the other two should be up and running by the time the in-space portion of the laser communications system launches in 2015.
Just imagine, not too long from now we'll have streaming HD video live from the surface of Mars — so the next time a photo of the Red Planet's landscape gets photo-bombed by a humanoid-looking Martian, we'll have undeniable video evidence!