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NASA To Showcase XCom For Efficient Space Communication

NASA is experimenting with a new communication technology in deep space which is likely to be demonstrated during International Space Station during spring. As of now NASA relies on regular radio waves to communicate between earth and spacecraft floating above. But new laser communication technology offer it high data rates so that spacecraft can now send larger data packets at one time. This technology is called X-Ray Communication system or XCOM that offers better advantages over radio waves. X-Rays have short wavelengths when compared to infrared and radio waves so XCOM can send more data using the same transmission power.

The X-Rays used in this communication system can broadcast tight beams using less energy while communicating across large distances. If the demonstration is successful then it could generate increased interest in this communications technology and permit efficient gigabits-per-second rates of data for deep space missions. This form of data transfer at extremely high rates is not common in telecom but recent research projects to speed up data processing have pushed the capability of computers to this range for few fields. These X-rays can also pierce the sheath of hot plasma that builds up when the spacecraft hurtles through atmosphere of earth at hypersonic speeds.

This plasma sheath sometimes acts as a barrier for communication and cuts of the radio frequency link between earth and the spacecraft for a few seconds. This phenomenon was effectively portrayed in the movie Apollo 13 when the spacecraft was not able to communicate with anything outside for a few nail-biting seconds. Till data no one has used X-rays in inter-space communication system but there are no applications that have been developed to ensure that communication does not get cut. NASA will use its MXS to generate rapid fire X-Ray pulses and while turn on and off server times per second to encode digital bits for transmission.

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