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NASA uses laser to send video from space station

Jun. 11, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By HEATHER KULDELL   |   Comments
NASA representaton of the International Space Station beaming high-definition video to Earth in a test of deep-space communications technology. (NASA)

NASA has successfully beamed a high-definition video from the space station, using a laser communications tool, paving the way for deep space communications.

Using the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) communication tool, the International Space Station on June 5 transmitted a video called “Hello, World!” to the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory ground station in Wrightwood, California. NASA is testing communication methods for future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves.

Optical communications deliver data rates of 10 to 1,000 times higher than current methods. OPALS sent the video in 3.5 seconds and reached a maximum data transmission rate of 50 megabits per second. The video message would have taken 10 minutes using traditional downlink methods.

“The International Space Station is a test bed for a host of technologies that are helping us increase our knowledge of how we operate in space and enable us to explore even farther into the solar system,” said Sam Scimemi, International Space Station division director at NASA Headquarters.

Watch NASA’s video explaining the technology.

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