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September 25, 2015

ESA rockets broadband to final frontier

News: The agency is upgrading its communications network.

By Alexander Sword

The European Space Agency (ESA) is upgrading its deep space tracking technology to boost connection speeds with spacecraft.

With the amount of data the agency needs to transmit from space increasing, dishes in New Norcia, Australia, Cerberos in Spain and Malargüe in Argentina will receive upgrades to increase speeds.

This will include alterations to the dichroic mirror system in the dishes, allowing them to use higher frequency radio waves that carry more information.

In addition, as opposed to the current 8 GHz band, future missions such as Euclid will move to the 26 GHz band, which offers four times more data bandwidth.

The agency also plans to exploit next-generation transmission technologies such as laser links and antenna arrays. New methods of coding will be used to boost communication speeds.

As a result, by 2018, some spacecraft will be able to connect with ground control at urban fibre optic broadband speeds.

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