The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science will beam video via laser from the International Space Station back to Earth. Here is animation showing how the technology works, with an explanation from the OPALS mission manager, Matt Abrahamson of JPL, plus the video NASA slated for OPALS' first official transmission.
The OPALS payload will transmit a high-definition video
from the space station down to the ground on a laser beam.
We do this by using a telescope high above Los Angeles,
in the San Gabriel mountain range.
It's going to come down on a 2.5-Watt laser, from a payload
called the OPALS payload up on the space station.
The file will transmit over a fiber-optics cable,
on the beam back to the ground station on Table Mountain.
From this location, we will illuminate
the International Space Station with a laser beam.
Once the beacon is received, the OPALS payload points back
at the ground station and will modulate a signal
over a laser beam back to the ground.
We collect an enormous amount of data out in space,
and we need to get it all down to the ground.
This is an alternative that's much faster than our traditional
radio waves that we use to communicate back down to the ground.
And so with this demonstration, we're
paving the way for the future of communications to and from space.
So we have a special message now from the International Space Station.
It's our first video, called 'Hello, World';
an homage to the first output of any standard computer program.
Let's take a look at it now.
It's the story of an endless search to serve the communication needs of America.
[Male Voice] Beep beep beep. 'Why the hurry?'
Here is modern telegraphy at work.
Sending and receiving in facsimile.
[Female voice] 'This is information. May I help you?'
The needs of today keeps pace with the tempo of a fast-moving age.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology