NASA Set to Demonstrate X-ray Communications in Space

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NASA Set to Demonstrate X-ray Communications in Space

Postby southwestforests on Thu 21 Feb 2019 07:49

The birth of data groups?

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/20 ... s-in-space

A new experimental type of deep space communications technology is scheduled to be demonstrated on the International Space Station this spring.

Currently, NASA relies on radio waves to send information between spacecraft and Earth. Emerging laser communications technology offers higher data rates that let spacecraft transmit more data at a time. This demonstration involves X-ray communications, or XCOM, which offers even more advantages.

X-rays have much shorter wavelengths than both infrared and radio. This means that, in principle, XCOM can send more data for the same amount of transmission power. The X-rays can broadcast in tighter beams, thus using less energy when communicating over vast distances.

If successful, the experiment could increase interest in the communications technology, which could permit more efficient gigabits-per-second data rates for deep space missions. Gigabits per second is a data transfer rate equivalent to one billion bits, or simple binary units, per second. These extremely high-speed rates of data transfer are not currently common, but new research projects have pushed computing capability toward this range for some technologies.

“We’ve waited a long time to demonstrate this capability,” said Jason Mitchell, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who helped develop the technology demonstration, which relies on a device called the Modulated X-ray Source, or MXS.

“For some missions, XCOM may be an enabling technology due to the extreme distances where they must operate,” Mitchell said.

Perhaps more dramatically, at least as far as human spaceflight is concerned, X-rays can pierce the hot plasma sheath that builds up as spacecraft hurdle through Earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The plasma acts as a shield, cutting off radio frequency communications with anything outside the vehicle for several seconds — a nail-biting period of time dramatically portrayed in the movie, Apollo 13. No one has ever used X-rays in a communications system, though, so other applications not yet conceived could emerge, Mitchell said.
Screw the rivets, I build models for atmosphere, not detail
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Re: NASA Set to Demonstrate X-ray Communications in Space

Postby Cralis on Thu 21 Feb 2019 14:17

Sounds like our tightbeam comms to me!
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