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What is NASA’s new communications system LCRD?

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Science and technology.



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.


Insta Curious:

Did you know that optical communications will help increase the bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems?



Prelims Link:

  1. About LCRD.
  2. Radio frequency.
  3. Optical communications systems.
  4. NASA missions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of NASA’s LCRD.

Sources: Indian Express.