Over the next year NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will scout and collect more information about the moon's surface and environment than any previous mission. It takes a powerful system to send all of this information more than 238,800 miles back to Earth so equipped with a new type of TWT amplifier, LRO can transmit 461 GB of data per day. It transmits this information at a rate of up to 100 MB per second. The 13-inch-long TWT is the first high data rate Ka-band transmitter to fly on a NASA spacecraft. L-3 Communications Electron Technologies built the amplifier under the supervision of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
As the orbiter collects information about the moon's geography, climate and environment, the communication system transmits this information to a receiver at a Ka-band antenna network at White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. Scientists are using the data to compile high-resolution, 3D maps of the lunar surface.
TWT Amplifiers have been used for other planetary missions, such as Kepler and Cassini, but previous designs were less powerful and less efficient. The amplifier underwent vigorous spaceflight testing -- including vibration, thermal vacuum, radiation and electromagnetic interference tests -- to ensure that it could withstand the intense conditions of launch and lunar orbit.
I wish I could get a wireless connection that fast!