Milestone! NASA CubeSat transmits almost 1 TB of data to Earth during a 5 minute pass
NASA's Terabyte Infrared Delivery (TBIRD), a tissue-box-sized CubeSat designed to showcase the unprecedented communications capabilities of lasers from space, recently transmitted almost 1 TB of data to Earth in the daytime during a ~5.5 minutes pass, the agency tweeted on Thursday.
TBIRD launched on May 25, 2022, as part of the Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) mission, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on SpaceX's Transporter-5 rideshare mission.
the TBIRD system is testing many new capabilities during its mission including demonstrating a direct-to-Earth laser communications link at 200Gbps - the highest data rate ever achieved by a NASA optical communications terminal.
The TBIRD payload is a joint partnership between NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) in Boston and SpaceX. The CubeSat hitched a ride to low-Earth-orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It's getting bright! ✨@NASA's TBIRD transmitted almost 1 TB of data to Earth in the daytime during a ~5.5 minutes pass, a huge milestone for @NASA_Technology. pic.twitter.com/aL8bldYEfn— NASA Space Communications and Navigation (@NASASCaN) February 2, 2023
Laser communication, also known as optical communication, utilizes infrared light rather than radio waves to transmit and receive data - pictures and videos - at significantly higher rates. Additionally, laser systems provide decreased size, weight, and power requirements, making them ideal for space missions.
Higher data rates offered by laser communications enable exploration and science missions to send more data back to Earth and discover more about the universe. According to NASA, transmitting data in sunlight can be a challenge, but being able to transmit data during the day and night provides more continuous coverage for future space missions using the agency's laser communications relay system.
TBIRD is testing many new capabilities during its mission, including demonstrating NASA's fastest laser link from space! The small satellite is making a big impact on laser communications. https://t.co/xgMJW7DvBy— NASA Space Communications and Navigation (@NASASCaN) February 2, 2023