Second EDRS Space Laser Satellite by Europe

Europe has released second satellite in its space laser telecommunications network.

It can use optical beams to pull photos and data from other spacecraft and then velocity that information to the ground.

EDRS-C, as it’s known, was despatched into orbit on Tuesday by an Ariane-5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

It joins the first node within the network, EDRS-A, which was put up in 2016.

That spacecraft was placed over Central Africa to service Europe.

The brand new satellite will sit slightly to the east, where it should present additional capability.

The European Data Relay System is a joint project between the European Space Agency and large aerospace Airbus.

It’s used predominantly by the European Union’s Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 Earth statement spacecraft. These platforms take pictures of the planet’s surface.

Ordinarily, such satellites would need to wait until they pass over a radio receiving dish on the ground before downloading their photos, which may imply a delay of over an hour as they circle the globe.

However, the Sentinels have been equipped to connect with the EDRS satellites’ 1.8-gigabit laser links.

The relay platforms orbit a lot increased within the sky – some 36,000km in altitude – and always have visibility of a radio antenna on the ground.

The capability has specific relevance within the realm of natural disasters, such as major floods or massive earthquakes.

Information about the scale of those emergencies may be put within the hands of first responders a lot faster than would usually be the case.