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Nasa to Boost Speed of Deep Space Communications

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Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex antenna

View of antenna of the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, located outside Canberra, Australia, one of the three complexes which comprise NASA's Deep Space Network. NASA will fuse the networks into one much faster, more efficient data network.

Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wants to combine three space-based communication networks into a much faster, more efficient data network. NASA's overhaul aims to combine the Space Network, the Near-earth Network, and the Deep Space Network into a single entity that will be as much as 50 times faster than current data transfer rates.

The new network will use laser-driven optical communication that could enable transfer speeds of up to 600 megabits per second, according to NASA's Badri Younes. "It's like driving a 1960s Chevy that's beat up and losing paint while going at 90 mph, and being pushed to convert that into a Lamborghini while driving 90 mph without losing a beat," Younes says. He says the new network should be ready by 2018.

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