NASA fires its laser from the ISS, transmits video using light

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NASA has fired its laser. Not with any superweapon intent though, the space agency has sent a video transmission from the International Space Station (ISS) using their OPALS (Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science) system – which is a test for using methods other than radio transmission for transmitting video.

The transmitted footage, which can be seen in the video above, was 148 seconds in length but was sent to the Table Mountain Observatory (the one in California) in just 3.5 seconds. Normally a video of that length would take 10 minutes or so to transmit from space, so we’re looking at a considerable improvement here. The top speed for the laser-based broadcast? 50 megabits per second.

The ISS’ division director Sam Scimemi said “Using the space station to investigate ways we can improve communication rates with spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit is another example of how the orbital complex serves as a stepping stone to human deep space exploration.”

Source: NASA via Engadget


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