NASA has begun using a specialized laser to transfer high-definition video from the International Space Station, an innovation that will allow the agency to transfer information from space much more rapidly than it’s currently capable of doing.
The technology uses a focused beam modulated from a 2.5 Watt, 1,550-nanometer laser to transmit information through space, NASA said. The laser increases the speed at which information is transmitted from 10 to 1,000 times over current radio transmissions from space.
On Thursday, the agency transferred a 175-megabit video from space to the ground in 3.5 seconds.
NASA likened the innovation to an upgrade from dial-up to DSL.
“It’s incredible to see this magnificent beam of light arriving from our tiny payload on the space station,” Matt Abrahamson, the mission’s manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.