Opto-electronics engineer Clemens Hesse recounts ESAs progress in optical communications. Europes EDRS Space Highway is set to return environmental data gathered by the Sentinel satellites to users on the ground. As a next step, in 2020 ESAs Asteroid Impact Mission will carry its own optical communications terminal, to return precious scientific results from the Didymos binary asteroids, shining a laser back to Earth across a maximum 75 million km of empty space.
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