Wi-Fi on the moon is now as fast as the Wi-Fi in your living room

Researchers at NASA and MIT have figured out how to beam wireless connectivity from a ground base in New Mexico


Timothy McGrath
June 1, 2014 11:00PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

Global Post Life on the moon just got a whole lot more awesome. Sure, you've got to wear a spacesuit and there's not much to do in the way of recreation and nightlife.

But that's all okay now, because there's Wi-Fi.

Researchers at NASA and MIT have figured out how to beam wireless connectivity from a ground base in New Mexico to the moon using telescopes and lasers.

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It's as cool as it sounds.

Here's how it works. The transmission utilizes four separate telescopes connected to a laser transmitter that feeds coded pulses of infrared light through it. Those signals travel toward a satellite orbiting the moon. Researchers have managed to make a connection and transfer data at a speed approximating slower Wi-Fi speeds on Earth.

It's no easy feat, and it doesn't work every time.

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"Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometre distance spreading out the light beam," said Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. "It's doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light-causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver."

Using four telescopes increases the chance that one of them will successfully hit the satellite.

The scientists-turned-Wi-Fi-troubleshooters will present their research at the CLEO laser technology conference on June 6.

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Such good news for life on the moon. We can now power-watch "West Wing."


Timothy McGrath

MORE FROM Timothy McGrath


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