This artist's concept of OPALS in operatin (Image: NASA)
OPALS arriving at the Kennedy Space Center (Image: NASA)
Diagram of the OPALS system (Image: NASA)
Computer image of OPALS being installed on the ISS (Image: NASA)
The OPALS mission (Image: NASA)
OPALS concept of operation (Image: NASA)
In internet engineering, there’s a problem called the “last half mile," which looks at how to connect users to high-speed fiber optic networks without going through old-fashioned copper wires that can slow data down to a crawl. NASA has more of a “last 250 miles” problem in making data connections with the International Space Station (ISS). The upcoming Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) project is an optical technology demonstration for using lasers to improve communications with the ISS and other spacecraft in hopes of boosting connection speeds by a factor of 10 to 100.
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