Radio waves are still the main method of communication with the spacecraft, however, the ageing technology may soon receive an update that will allow you to transfer information between Earth and space is much faster. To do this, space Agency NASA in the framework of the project XCOM is preparing to test new x-ray communication system, which will be conducted aboard the International space station. System expect to experience in the coming months.
For testing new communication systems NASA is going to use two devices. The first is installed outside of the ISS camera NICER, which deals with fixation of x-ray radiation from neutron stars. Last year, the American space Agency with the help of this device have shown the possibility of using data from millisecond pulsars as a GPS to calculate the location of the space station in orbit with an accuracy of up to 4.8 km.
The device of the modulated x-ray source (MXS)
The second device will be modulated x-ray source (MXS), which will also be installed floating outside the ISS. Using this device will be encoded binary message in x-rays, which will then go on NICER. The latter, in turn, will have to decipher them. The distance between two devices is 50 meters. The transmitted message will be simple, marked on the NASA website, the device was able to catch him and correct decoding. If the first test is successful, then in the next planned transfer of more complex message.
If all goes according to plan, x-ray communication is used for data transmission on several spacecraft. X-rays have much shorter wavelengths than radio waves or even laser communication systems. That means they will transmit more data in a denser rays, effectively increasing the speed with which these messages about what’s most important in communication at very large distances.
Another potential advantage of x-ray communication system is that x-rays are capable through the hot plasma, which usually interrupts the transmission of radio waves, for example, when the spacecraft passes through the dense layers of earth’s atmosphere. Thus x-ray communication system will allow the spacecraft to always stay in touch with the control center, even during such periods.
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