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back to article NASA sends Mona Lisa into space by LASER

NASA has fired a greyscale image of the Mona Lisa to its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, as part of an experiment using optics instead of radio for deep-space communications. Any space-watcher knows the frustration at the delays imposed by skinny radio channels in anything involving a deep-space mission. NASA is intensely …

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Bronze badge
Trollface

But...

Laser communication is radio communication.

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Facepalm

Re: But...

Depends who you ask. Wikipedia (yes, I know) for example defines Radio as "...the wireless transmission of signals through free space by electromagnetic radiation..." - which would include lasers - but then adds "...of a frequency significantly below that of visible light, in the radio frequency range, from about 30 kHz to 300 GHz." - which takes lasers out of the context.

And just to confuse things further, here's another extract from Wikipedia: "The prefix radio- in the sense of wireless transmission, was first recorded in the word radioconductor, a description provided by the French physicist Édouard Branly in 1897. It is based on the verb to radiate (in Latin "radius" means "spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray")."

Personally, I think laser transmission is a radio transmission under the technical definitions. Under the *popular* definition (i.e., to people who listen(ed) to radios), it isn't. <sigh>

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: But...

I hardly think referring to the "radio spectrum" is "popular". It's rather pointless to use a definition of radio which covers any wavelength... we could similarly refer to radiowaves and gamma rays as 'light' which is technicallyt true but rather unhelpful.

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Silver badge
Devil

Re: @It's not radio, it's laser

Bah. 'Tis all Wireless.

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Silver badge

It's just an excuse to build orbiting laser cannons...

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We need an excuse for that?

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Silver badge

Fibre to the planet

BT is interested but doesn't expect to be able to offer the full 300bps to all its fibre customers without more subsidy

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Silver badge

More detail on the error budget?

"Reed-Solomon coding was used to overcome interference caused by atmospheric turbulence."

Of the total errors, what proportion were caused by atmospheric turbulence? I'm wondering how well this method would perform if the laser communication was through the 'vacuum' of space over the entire path. Also, I assume that modifying a ranging laser is not the most effective way to give high speed data transmission.

In the future, I can imagine a high orbit laser being used for the 'space' part of the link with a broadband radio downlink to earth. The narrow beam spread of a laser would give much better energy density on the target but would make steering and pointing more difficult.

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Gold badge
Happy

Re: More detail on the error budget?

"The narrow beam spread of a laser would give much better energy density on the target but would make steering and pointing more difficult."

It's a subject JPL have given much thought to.

I think the phrase "nanorad pointing" will give some idea of their work.

You're right a lot of the errors are likely to be in the last 100km or so as all that air turbulence leads to the beam "wobbling" about. Adaptive optics or serious post reception processing are probably involved.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh I see

I though this was about the Mona Lisa mooning NASA.

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Anonymous Coward

How long before we etch her head on the moons surface. When will this madness end?

** oh, just read article, seems no etching of moon

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But it's not

Except that laser is optical and radio is wavelength > IR. if you'd said "MASER is radio communication" you'd be correct

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Silver badge

Gravitons

No atmospheric distortion.

Only minor earthquake damage.

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Thumb Up

I predict a new Meme

After 'Rick Rolling' are we going to get

La Gioconda Giffing.

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Alert

Seagulls

All this is fine of course, until something inadvertently flies through the laser beam...

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So laser to a geo stationed sat then seems a good idea,

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Silver badge
Coat

But...

... shouldn't have been a picture of a frickin' shark?

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Windows

Looks more like the Mono Lisa to me.

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