The NorSat-TD demonstration microsatellite developed by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) for the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA) has successfully transferred data to a ground station using optical communications technology.
The accomplishment is a first for a Dutch-built laser communication device and among the first achieved by a microsatellite.
Optical, or laser, communications between a satellite and ground station enable faster and more secure transmission of larger data sets than typically possible with radio communications. Reliable delivery of data either collected or relayed by satellites is vital to most low Earth orbit applications, including Earth observation, telecommunications, atmospheric monitoring, maritime ship tracking, and space astronomy.
“The successful demonstration of satellite-to-ground communication by the 35-kg NorSat-TD microsatellite greatly expands the utility of affordable smaller satellites that are more cost effective than traditional spacecraft to develop, launch, and operate,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee.
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