‘SpaceDataHighway’ Delivers Satellite Data in Minutes

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A new data delivery system is being tested that will allow the download of data from satellites within minutes.  The laser system connects to satellites 36,000 km above the Earth in order to deliver Earth observation data and imagery.

An artistic rendering showing the Sentinel-2 transmitting data by laser to a geostationary satellite carrying the the European Data Relay System (EDRS).

An artistic rendering showing the Sentinel-2 transmitting data by laser to a geostationary satellite carrying the the European Data Relay System (EDRS). Image: ESA/ATG medialab

Geostationary satellites, which maintain a stationary position relative to the Earth, are always in view of ground stations which allows for the immediate downloading of data.  Satellites like the European Space Agency’s Sentinel group orbit from Pole to Pole.  New technology is being tested with Sentinel-B that uses lasers to transmit data to geostationary communications satellites like Alphasat which carry the European Data Relay System (EDRS).  EDRS is system being developed to enable a constellation of geostationary satellites to receive data transmitted via lasers from other satellites and then transfer that data to ground stations.  The data transmitted from the Sentinel satellites is then relayed by the EDRS satellite to the ground.  A test of images from Europe to North Africa was successfully transmitted from Sentinel-2 to the ground in six minutes.

More: First Sentinel-2B images delivered by laser, European Space Agency

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