Ever since mankind realized that there are other planets than ours and that there is an ‘outer space’, we have dreamed of making use of it for our own specie’s needs. And satellites are a very good example of how we did that. In an effort that officially began last week with the start of the program, ESA starts orbiting data superhighway with launch of EDRS.
ESA’s EDRS – The European Data Relay System
The satellite is one of the ESA’s most ambitious projects to date, aiming to make it easier for data to be relayed down to Earth.
It has the potential to send information back to Earth in nearly real time, with just a 20 minute or lower delay.
A data superhighway in orbit to profit everybody
Behind the project is an even ambition than that laying behind the satellite.
The plan is to launch a network of these satellites, each more specialized than the previous one, so that eventually officials get almost feedback regarding what is going on world-wide.
What the EDRS is going to do is to relay data in almost real time to earth in an attempt to avert more disasters, save more lives, and to prevent intentional or purposeful incidents.
Helping with rescue operations, monitoring shipping routes through dangerous waters, and tracking international water pirates are all things that will be achievable via the satellite, with only a 20 minute delay, making it an invaluable resource towards saving lives.
Some technical details behind the European satellite
Being in the development process for over ten years, the satellite is pretty much in its best possible current state.
The EDRS communicates by hitting anther satellite with a laser beam over a distance of more than 40,000 kilometers – around 25,000 miles.
Instead of attempting to send data straight to Earth, which would be available for 10 minutes out of every 90 minute orbit, the satellite instead sends data even further into space to another satellite, which in turn can send the information to Earth at any time.
Still in testing, the EDRS will start its official operations most likely this summer, sending and receiving data at speeds of up to 1.8 Gbps.
The satellite was launched on Saturday from Kazakhstan, deployed by a Proton rocket.
Future plans for the European Space Agency’s program
Next, ESA plans on sending another satellite into orbit this year, furthering its goals towards a very high speed, high accuracy data network.
The team is planning to finish the entire system by 2020, and is not shy in their search for partners to help with the project.
Image source: Wikimedia