How do we get data from a satellite down to Earth? How do we task a satellite?
Today the answer is likely to be via radios and a system of downlink sites or ground stations. As the satellites pass overhead or within “line of sight” data can be sent via radio from the satellite to the receiver on the ground.
If you don’t want to wait until the satellite can see the ground station, you can send your data to a geostationary satellite that can always see a ground station and let it send the data back to Earth.
Radios are tried and tested, they have been used for this purpose since the inception of satellite communication and radio waves can pass through Earth’s atmosphere without significant loss!
But … the frequency spectrum for radio waves is strictly regulated, which can limit available channels for communication, and the bandwidth of radio frequencies is limited, which can reduce the volume of data transmission.
What about lasers?
You can send more data faster with a laser, you don’t need to worry about interfering with someone else part of the radio spectrum, and ground stations can be much smaller even human-portable!
But … lasers struggle with clouds and the technology is still relatively new
So what is the best way to communicate with satellites? Radio or Laser? The answer is … it depends 😉
Jordan Wachs, Director of Business Development for SpaceRake.net does a great job adding context to this discussion but perhaps the bigger question here is what will we do when satellites become internet devices, part of the Internet of Things?
What if they were always on always connected in the same way your phone is always on, always connected? What will this enable?
This episode was sponsored by Sponsored by Sinergise, as part of Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem knowledge sharing
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