This Telescope Is Shooting a Laser Right at the ISS

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Who gave this telescope a lightsaber? Just kidding: this is, of course, the ESA's Optical Ground Station telescope in Tenerife -- in the process of laser tagging the International Space Station to establish a data connection.

The experiment, which actually took place last October, was a proof-of-concept to show how laser links between Earth and space might work in practice.

It successfully established a link with the ISS as it passed by, 250 miles overhead, although other experiments have established links with satellites up to 22,000 miles away. Currently these links can send data at 1.8 Gbits per second, but that design should soon be scaled up to handle 7.2 Gbits. [ESA]