NASA researchers are developing a technology that uses X-ray signals for high-speed communications in outer space.
The system relies on a NASA fast-flight computing platform and GPS flight receiver that can function in weak-signal areas in space, and seeks to offer more reliable communication links for spacecraft compared to more outage-prone radio signals.
The X-ray signals the system emits provide data transfer rates at gigabit-per-second speeds. X-ray communications are also less sensitive to obstacles that might otherwise block radio signals and are more efficient than visible and infrared light signals for long-distance communications.
X-ray communications also offer advantages over visible and infrared light used for laser communications since, thanks to their shorter wavelengths, they can send more data over very long distances with the same amount of power.
NASA plans to begin conducting experiments with the technology on the International Space Station in 2018.