And you thought your connection was fast. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently scanning the moon with powerful sensory equipment, gathering the most detailed data to date from the lunar surface. But to transmit all those images and data across the 238,800-mile void separating the moon from Earth, the LRO relies on a super-charged wireless connection that beams 461 gigabytes per day back to the blue planet. And the instrument that makes it all possible is a mere 13 inches long. Built by L-3 Communications Electron Technologies and NASA's Glenn Research Center, the Traveling Wave Tube Amplifier uses electrodes mounted in a vacuum tube to amplify microwave signals, juicing them up for the long journey to NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. There, geographic and climate data is picked up by a Ka band antenna network and downloaded to scientists constructing high-resolution...
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