Recently the second space laser satellite of Europe was launched in order to be part of a greater telecommunications network.
The satellite will take use of optical beams to receive pictures and data from other spacecraft and then accelerate the transfer of that data to the ground receivers.
Officially known as EDRS-C, the satellite was sent into orbit on Tuesday by an Ariane 5 rocket, launched from the Kourou spaceport located in the French Guiana.
It will join the first node of the future network, which was launched and set up in 2016 with the official name of EDRS-A, positioned over Central Africa, with the purpose of serving Europe’s telecommunication requirements.
EDRS-C will be placed slightly eastern, providing additional capacity for the network.
The new satellite is the product of the partnership between the European Space Agency and aerospace giant Airbus.
The main user of the new satellite is the European Union made Sentinel – 1 and Sentinel – 2 observation spacecraft. The two platforms take images of the surface of our planet.
Regularly, in order to send data to Earth, satellites had to wait until they passed over a radio receiving dish on the ground in order to establish a connection. This usually translated to a delay of more than an hour. Thanks to the new technology, sending an image to Earth takes only about 15 minutes from the time it was acquired by the probe.
The relay system is meant to regularly facilitate data transfer between Earth and the European Columbus science lab on the space station. Future satellites will also be designed to be able to take use of the EDRS.
There are plans to launch a third node in the network by 2025: EDRS – D.