10 Gbps Space-to-Ground Laser Data Transfer Achieved by China’s Satellite

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CGST is a Chinese satellite constellation company, and it has successfully sent high-speed data by laser from space to the ground.

The company used one of its 108 satellites to send remote sensing images to an optical telescope mounted on a vehicle at around 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps). The transmission was completed successfully and was praised as a significant technological achievement for the company and an essential step towards potential commercial applications.

According to Interesting Engineering, the company’s transportable vehicle-mounted ground station is compact, high-bandwidth, and can be deployed anywhere to avoid weather and better support satellite-to-ground laser communications.

Wang Xingxing, technical director of CGST’s laser communications ground station unit, explained: “The data rate in this test reached 10 gigabytes per second, which is more than ten times higher than that of the radio-frequency links traditionally used for satellite communication. In the future, Chang Guang Satellite plans to expand the bandwidth to 40-100Gbps, and use such ground stations at various locations across the country to substantially boost its image-acquisition efficiency.”

CGST has continuously improved the resolution of its Jilin satellites as well as increased the number of them in orbit, which increased the amount of data they were generating. This began to pose a significant technical challenge for the company to manage, so they turned to lasers, the light of which packs the data into much tighter waves, allowing ground stations to receive more data simultaneously.

“For the amount of data which takes radio waves 10 minutes to transmit, laser waves can collect it in just about 15 seconds,” explained Xu Lu, deputy general manager of Beijing Rongwei Technology.