Mars Laser Communication Demonstration, Artist's Concept
This illustration depicts a concept for operation of an optical communications system on NASA's Mars Telecommunications Orbiter. The orbiter is in development for launch in September 2009 with a payload including the spacecraft terminal of the Mars Laser Communication Demonstration Project. This project will also include an Earth-based terminal for two-way, high-data-rate communication using infrared light. The orbiter's primary communications with Earth will use radio frequencies. The laser demonstration is intended to build experience for use in decisions about possible use of optical communications by later missions.