NASA already has major budget issues so it’s a damn good thing the agency didn’t turn to AT&T to provide the wireless data coverage for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Because AT&T charges $0.0195 per kilobyte over a 5GB cap, it would cost roughly $231,883 for the daily data transmission of the 461GB. That’s $83,709,763 per year assuming AT&T didn’t come up with some charge for interplanetary roaming. All joking aside, this Moon satellite has an impressive data transmitter.
Somehow electrodes in a vacuum tube boosts microwave signals to high levels that are idea for transmitting large amounts of data. This amplifier can send data at a 100 megabytes a second back to Earth, more than 238,800 miles away. Similar designs were used on Kepler and Cassini, but the LRO‘s system is the most powerful. And it has to be if it’s taking high-res photos of the Moon’s surface.