Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Satellite communications by laser

14.05.2008
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.

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 -35°C to 60°C, 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.

Martin Traub | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/EN

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht One Step Ahead: Adaptive Radar Systems for Smart Driver Assistance
20.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

nachricht Enjoying virtual-reality-entertainment without headache or motion sickness
19.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Glacial engineering could limit sea-level rise, if we get our emissions under control

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Warning against hubris in CO2 removal

20.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

Halfway mark for NOEMA, the super-telescope under construction

20.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>