Satellites that use laser communication systems can send information back to Earth in only a matter of minutes.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – The Space Agency in Europe (ESA) believes that satellite communication can be improved with lasers. In order to prove their theory, the ESA launched last Friday the Phase One of a satellite relay system which will gather and transmit data via a concentrated laser beam.
The Phase One is a satellite relay system that will gather data from surrounding satellites and re-transmit them back to Earth using a concentrated laser beam. This will allow the information to travel from the artificial satellite to the computer in only a matter of minutes, as opposed to the present radio technology employed by the satellites in orbit which transmit data in a couple of hours.
The latest satellite launched by the ESA is in a higher orbit than the rest of the radio-powered satellites. But this is actually better for it because it enable the spacecrafts that circle the Earth to transmit the information upward. Because of its higher distance, the developers at the ESA equipped it with laser communication which conveys a less degradable, stronger beam.
One of the cases in which the satellite could prove very useful is a disaster in need of relief work. Because it only takes minutes for the device to gather images from all the other satellites in orbit and send them back to Earth, disaster areas could be easier checked and more lives could be saved.
But this is not the only application that the scientists have for the new space communication technology that was devised by the ESA. According to the researchers, radio waved degrade in a fast rhythm, noise, distance and other types of disruptions interfering with the wave’s journey, eventually making it fade away.
The Phase One satellite relay system will help future expeditions to get in touch easier with the mission command crew back on Earth. The concentrated laser beam is more reliable because it doesn’t fade away as easy as radio waves. Disruptions and noise affect it less, so it can travel a far greater distance in far less time.
The new communication technology could prove to be very useful for the future Mars missions. According to the scientists, radio waves communication technology requires a tremendous amount of power and it wouldn’t be practical for such lengthy missions.
And since radio waves are used with a lot of communication methods, the system is quite busy. Laser communication will prove to be far less “crowded”, so it will not have to deal with that much disruption.
Satellite communication can be improved with lasers, and it is expected to be a fully-functional technology by 2019.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org