Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Satellite Communications By Laser Looks Promising

Date:
May 14, 2008
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Satellites currently use radio waves to exchange data. Now the data rate has been increased a hundredfold by using lasers instead of radio signals. Two test satellites each carried a diode laser pump module. The data whizzed back and forth at the speed of light between German satellite TerraSAR-X and US satellite NFIRE, covering more than 5000 kilometers in space without any errors.

Satellites currently use radio waves to exchange data. Now the data rate has been increased a hundredfold by using lasers instead of radio signals. Two test satellites each carried a diode laser pump module developed with the help of Fraunhofer researchers.

Related Articles


The data whizzed back and forth at the speed of light between German satellite TerraSAR-X and US satellite NFIRE, covering more than 5000 kilometers in space without any errors. What was special about this space test recently performed by Tesat-Spacecom was that the data was transmitted by laser. The bandwidth achieved in the test was a hundred times greater than during conventional communication by radio waves, enabling a data rate equivalent to roughly 400 DVDs per hour.

This could make it possible to transmit large data packets between several satellites in the future, for instance to send image data from Earth observation satellites to a ground station. That has not been possible until now, as the bandwidth of radio waves is not large enough. Another advantage of this new form of communication is that lasers are easier to focus than radio waves, which means that data transmissions can be directed more accurately.

The communication lasers on board the satellite are actuated by pump modules, which were developed to a large extent by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen on behalf of Tesat GmbH & Co. KG as part of a program financed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). “The modules have to withstand the vibrations and forces of acceleration on board the satellites during the launch and must then survive the inhospitable conditions in space – such as extreme radiation and strong temperature differences,” says Martin Traub, who led the developments at the ILT.

“We therefore tested the pump modules under extreme conditions in advance, subjecting them to temperatures of -35C to 60C, acceleration forces 1300 times as strong as those of the Earth, and gamma rays.”

The modules mustn’t be too big or too heavy for use in space: Measuring 5 x 5 x 2 centimeters, they are barely larger than a matchbox, and weigh little more than a bar of chocolate at 130 grams. “We achieved this minimal weight by selecting the right materials and a sophisticated housing: Any material that wasn’t absolutely essential was milled away,” says Traub. The major challenge is that, despite the reduced weight, the heat generated by the laser’s several-watt output still has to be dissipated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Satellite Communications By Laser Looks Promising." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080513104004.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2008, May 14). Satellite Communications By Laser Looks Promising. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080513104004.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Satellite Communications By Laser Looks Promising." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080513104004.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins