Transferring data at the speed of light

© Unsplash, Magnus Östberg

deIf you ping a server in Sydney from southern Germany, on bad days you have enough time for about four blueberry pies – scientifically determined with the help of a chronograph and the editor’s ability to pronounce the word “blueberry pie” as quickly as possible. Based on the assumption that the ping travels in a fiber optic cable during its entire route between Munich and Sydney, it reaches – purely mathematically – a speed of approx. 11,600 m/s (distance 35,000 kilometers divided by 3 seconds). In this admittedly rather simple calculation, which by far does not include all aspects of terrestrial data transmission, nonetheless one thing is becoming clear: Cable-based data transmission is limited, in some places still unrivalled, but fundamentally limited.

What does laser communication have to do with all of this?

In space, optical data transmission is completely unhindered and only here can make use of its full bandwidth. For more than ten years, laser communication terminals (LCT) from TESAT have established optical inter-satellite links (OISL) and transmitted data at up to 1.8 gigabits per second over distances of up to 80,000 kilometers – at the speed of light!

The advantages of laser communication

© Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema
© Unsplash, Kelly Sikkema

Leaving the scenario of “pings” and transferring the differences in speed and transmission rate to different fields of application quickly make clear where the advantages of laser communication lay. A 10- to 20-times higher data transmission rate with the help of optical satellite communication makes a significant difference – especially with time-critical information – and can be essential in the case e.g. of satellite images of crisis areas after natural disasters. Imagine that this data can be made available to crisis teams directly on site without detours via central ground stations and terrestrial data transmission, it is plain easy to see the value of this technology.

So to say, laser communication technology from TESAT is secretly enriching our everyday lives.


Banner image copyright © Unsplash, Magnus Östberg

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