For the first time, Nasa has beamed a high-definition video via laser
from space to ground. "Hello, World!" came the message from the
International Space Station (ISS).
The 175-megabit video transmission
was the first-of-its-kind for the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science
(OPALS) technology on the ISS.
The entire transmission lasted for 148 seconds and achieved a maximum data rate of 50 megabits per second.
took OPALS 3.5 seconds to transmit a single copy of the "Hello World!"
video message that would have taken more than 10 minutes using
traditional downlink methods.
The message was sent multiple times during the transmission.
is incredible to see this magnificent beam of light arriving from our
tiny payload on the space station," said Matt Abrahamson, OPALS mission
manager at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena,
The OPALS laser technology could replace the radio
frequencies currently in use from orbit to meet the needs anticipated by
researchers for future missions like Mars.
OPALS technology demonstration furthers Nasa's exploration of higher-bandwidth methods of communicating with future spacecraft.
communications tools like OPALS use focused laser energy to achieve
data rates 10 to 1,000 times higher than current space communications,
which rely on radio portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, Nasa said.
OPALS' success also is an important step in improving communication rates with spacecraft beyond low-earth orbit.
instrument allows for communications rates to keep pace with the
ever-increasing data generation produced by scientific instruments.
look forward to experimenting with OPALS over the coming months in
hopes that our findings will lead to optical communications capabilities
for future deep space exploration missions," Abrahamson noted.