8 high-tech innovations that will put humans on Mars

From interplanetary ships to humanoid robots, these are the technologies that will help establish the first human colony on Mars.

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Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will send data from Mars to Earth at speeds 100 times faster than current radio-frequency communications. Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will send data from Mars to Earth at speeds 100 times faster than current radio-frequency communications. (Photo: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

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Laser-powered communications

Remember the first time you tried high-speed Internet and vowed never to go back to dial-up? NASA is attempting to make the same welcome transition.

The agency will soon begin upgrading its conventional radio frequency (RF) communications with the faster Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). By leveraging optical wavelengths, NASA will be able to send data at speeds 100 times faster than RF signals.

In addition to allowing for the installation of higher-quality cameras and other data-rich sensors on future spacecraft, LCRD also consumes less power and requires smaller antennae than RF.

"Such capability will become critically important as humans embark on long journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond," NASA explained.

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