Laser telecommunication

How to send gigabits of data from space to Earth in less than 10 minutes and do it safely? Learn more about Scanway’s work on laser communication!

Data security in space

The work of any device in space, including Earth Observation satellites, requires the transmission of data to receiving stations. How do you send gigabits of information quickly? What if the data is sensitive and there is a need to secure the entire communication process? These and other problems are solved by laser telecommunication. As part of our research work, we decided to design and develop laser communication system that would transmit data quickly and securely over very long distances.

Why traditional solutions are not secure?

Traditional radio communication is based on proper modulation of an electromagnetic wave that propagates in every direction and ultimately provides coverage of a very large area of the Earth. Laser communication works similar to fiber optic communication – from point A to point B. The photons enter the fiber from the transmitter travel only to their destination point at the end of the medium (fiber) – the receiver. For space applications, the laser beam uses the atmosphere as a medium, but a properly prepared laser telecommunication module is able to send the beam to a specific, relatively small point on Earth. Conventional transmission of information carries a number of risks, such as: frequency limitations, the need for an extensive network of receiving stations, lack of encryption, low bandwidth, and the need for constant upgrades to increase transmission power. Laser telecommunication solves these problems.

What does laser communication offer?

With laser communication, there is no need to regulate the legal process of information exchange due to the fact that the laser beam travels directly to a specific location on Earth. This enables a secure and reliable way of transmitting information, where eavesdropping is only possible if the listener is physically next to the receiver. Due to the very high energy concentration, the need for transmission power is also much lower than in conventional telecommunications. The biggest advantage of laser telecommunication is its enormous throughput. Speeds of the order of gigabits per second are possible – values an order of magnitude higher than those achievable with conventional X-band or other types of telecommunications.