This Satellite Image Was Beamed 35,000km Across Space By Laser

This Satellite Image Was Beamed 22,000 Miles Across Space By Laser

This may look like a fairly normal satellite image of Berlin, but it holds a rather special secret: it's the first image of its kind to be beamed back from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1A satellite in almost real time by laser.

Sentinel-1A usually orbits our planet 700km up, only sending data back home when it passes above one its ground stations. But now, the ESA has set up a laser link which allows it to beam data to other geostationary satellites 35,000km above Earth which then send it to ground stations that are always in their view.

The result is the ability for Sentinel-1A to transmit data to Earth far more regularly than ever before, in as close to real time as possible. Currently the link between satellites and Earth offers speeds of up to 1.8 Gbit/s, thought it's hoped it will nudge 7.2 Gbit/s in the future. [ESA]


    Would it be possible that when they send rovers to a planet, they could drop off satellites at various points that could communicate from earth to rover through the satellites by lasers so they could almost get instantaneous communications.

      That will not actually speed up communication as radio waves travel at the speed of light already. What it does speed up is throughput. Simple commands go just as fast via laser or RF links. Laser has a lot of drawbacks, too, in the Earth scenario. Clouds, smoke, fog can limit or curtail laser transmission.

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