In DepthSpace Technology

Minisatellite surge spurs downlink infrastructure

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1342-1343
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1342

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Hundreds of recently launched CubeSats—minisatellites pieced together like Lego blocks—have created a data bottleneck. Whereas early CubeSats transmitted basic information, today's swarms have power to spare and data-hungry sensors, forcing developers to invest in bigger radio dishes that can handle faster transfers. Now, traditional and startup companies as well as the military and government agencies are jumping into the fledgling market. They are building out or buying into global antenna networks and testing more capable downlink technologies and architectures. Radios are also moving to higher frequencies to cram in more information, and some scientists are looking to a lasting solution outside the radio spectrum entirely: lasers.