Facebook is Building a Space Laser

AlphaAtlas

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IEEE Spectrum says that PointView Tech, a Facebook subsidiary, is building a laser satellite communication facility on the peak of Mount Wilson in California. The publication believes that the company is working on a laser communication satellite codenamed "Athena" and says the company has a long running interest in ground to space laser communication technology. Apparently, using lasers instead of regular antennae has the potential to massively increase bandwidth while reducing costs, assuming the kinks can be worked out, and Google is reportedly working on a similar communications project with weather balloons.

Lasers are able to support much higher data rates than radio transmitters for a given input power, and their signals are largely immune to interference or hacking, although clouds can be problematic... If the observatories are part of a laser satellite installation, they might use an optical ground station conceptually similar to Mynaric’s. This transmits its own laser beam up into the atmosphere for a drone-or potentially a satellite-to lock on to. Facebook itself did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story, and the Mount Wilson Institute, which manages the observatory site, would only say, "The PointView Tech installation is not yet complete..." PointView said in its filing that it expects to launch Athena early in 2019.
 

Disco_Stu_04

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Ground based laser in congested southern California airspace. Couldn't have done this anywhere else.

"Delta 296, turn right heading 240, maintain 3,000, avoid the Facebook laser, cleared RNAV runway 27 approach"
 

katanaD

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its good to see steps along this are being taken.

we REALLY need truly global communications. Also once we do get a constellation of LEO comm sats that might be optically linked to ground stations, those same sats could then link in other pointing the other way to really expand the overly taxed deep space network.
 

N4CR

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Ground based laser in congested southern California airspace. Couldn't have done this anywhere else.

"Delta 296, turn right heading 240, maintain 3,000, avoid the Facebook laser, cleared RNAV runway 27 approach"
They are using eye-safe lasers so this means likely in the 1500 nanometer range.
Something that I will be investigating in the next month or two for my own R&D... ;)
 

ta_erog

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So, are people just being funny or really don't understand what a communication laser is and how mundane it is? (have to ask in a world of flat-earthers and the movie educated. ) :p
 

nutzo

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So, are people just being funny or really don't understand what a communication laser is and how mundane it is? (have to ask in a world of flat-earthers and the movie educated. ) :p

More fun to think Death Star :D
 

N4CR

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Lol, agreed I wouldn't be copping them to the eye either way (bad safety practice) but the reason they are eye safe is that it doesn't penetrate through the outside of the eye. Of course with enough power nothing is 'eye safe' as you have thermal effects but ~1500nm is about as good as it gets.
Funny bit of side info, I wonder if they'll get sick of cloud and move to 94GHz lasers. It's an optical window that passes through moisture so allows for unhindered transmission. But at this wavelength the laser is more like a radio wave or x-ray and is quite tricky to generate in useful amounts.
 

modi123

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So, are people just being funny or really don't understand what a communication laser is and how mundane it is?
Right?! All these n00bs and their laser chatter and they don't even know how a simple beam or ray even works!


The important question, and I believe we both can agree it is monumental, is which sound will Zuck's Space Laser make?

 

ta_erog

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Right?! All these n00bs and their laser chatter and they don't even know how a simple beam or ray even works!

[
Heh exactly!
The death beams must make sounds! in space! and be completely visible!! It is as important as them being mounted on sharks. Cars spontaneously exploding in mid-air as they fly off cliffs. WWII style spaceship dogfights and capital ship engagements. Ship cloaking meaning really invisible. Gravity plates. most aliens looking like humans with bad plastic surgery on their forehead. and so on. It is important and completely true! since I saw it once in a movie! :p

Personally, I like anime beams. They tend to spray like a water jet and moves super slowly while splashing agents the armor of another spaceship all of 100 ft away. :p Zooooorrt!
 

Arcygenical

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They are using eye-safe lasers so this means likely in the 1500 nanometer range.
Something that I will be investigating in the next month or two for my own R&D... ;)
No laser is really eye safe. Just eye safer
 

FLECOM

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They are using eye-safe lasers so this means likely in the 1500 nanometer range.
Something that I will be investigating in the next month or two for my own R&D... ;)
how are 1500nm lasers eye-safe? IR lasers have no blink reaction since you can't see them... the only thing you could call "safe" about them is they won't burn your retina like <1000nm lasers will, but they can certainly burn the cornea of the eye... plenty of people have gotten pretty serious eye damage from CO2 lasers which are way up in the long-wave IR 10600nm range
 

N4CR

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how are 1500nm lasers eye-safe? IR lasers have no blink reaction since you can't see them... the only thing you could call "safe" about them is they won't burn your retina like <1000nm lasers will, but they can certainly burn the cornea of the eye... plenty of people have gotten pretty serious eye damage from CO2 lasers which are way up in the long-wave IR 10600nm range
Hey FLECOM, as I mentioned earlier it's 'eye-safe' in that it's fine at lower power, to explain further it cannot penetrate to the retina but yes as you mention, high power will thermally destroy your eye anyway.. so it all depends what power level they are using. Co2 is an interesting one (I don't have much experience with other than laser cutters) as it appears to be mostly stopped by simple perspex for scattered reflection. But maybe I'm wrong however most cutters I have seen employ this and the scatter isn't harmful behind such material. Heard of amateur users using home depot tool safety goggles for this... braver than I. I'll stick to rated NoIR gear thank you, my eyes are worth more than $100 to me.. and I would never test an 'eye-safe' laser regardless, had enough close calls over the years to learn from to get the message. These days I almost exclusively work with Class IV visible in the 7-100W+ range.. and soon ir up to 700W CW. Fun times ;) cheers
 

Arcygenical

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N4cr, 7-100w, visible? What wavelength. Don’t tell me 589-593nm, I’ll die lol.
 
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N4CR

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N4cr, 7-100w, visible? What wavelength. Don’t tell me 589-593nm, I’ll die lol.
Ain't seen it in the flesh yet but 589 is gorgeous on pictures, like a concentrated street light lol. The sodium lasers are all 589.3? nm from memory but I bet you already know this if you like orange-yellow range ;). Building five 81 and 73 in next two months in the 40-100W+ range with luck and stupid tight beams but should have this week a solution for multi potentially mid-multi hundred watts of 540, even brighter than 532 and I can't wait to see it.
Wavelengths are and will be 445, 450, 460, 465, 473, 479.2, 480, 484, 495, 516, 532, 540, 555, 73, 81,six20 record with 2nd ever demonstration of a certain predicted in '75 and extremely novel output characteristic), 626, 637, 650, 660 italics for in progress R&D over next 2-3 months (probably more), many years of dream projects going on in accelerated pace right now with international collabs :). For obvious reasons have to be just a little discreet. PM if you want to chat because I can't go into further detail here lol.
 

N4CR

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Will it make 'Pew Pew' sounds when turned on?
If not...lame
Not quite pew pew but preeeoooowwww preeeooowww sorta stuff maybe with some data patterns or usage you'd generate harmonics and yes thus you could hear it. However they probably modulate so fast in normal use you can't normally hear it... fastest I've heard is probably around 7000Hz or so, in future can try higher with more power, it can be uncanny as hell in a quiet room with scanned output to hear laser light impacting something and making sound with an 'electric wasp' buzzing sound.
 

FLECOM

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Ain't seen it in the flesh yet but 589 is gorgeous on pictures
I used to have a 589 frequency summation laser, was really neat, ended up trading it for some pangolin hardware, kind of regret it but oh well
 

N4CR

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I used to have a 589 frequency summation laser, was really neat, ended up trading it for some pangolin hardware, kind of regret it but oh well
Ooooooh that's something quite rare indeed!!! Do you remember what sum frequencies and how was the beam quality? Very curious as I don't see many lasers like that around at all and don't know much about them to be honest, either way must be quite a treat to own that frequency as it is very rare indeed, now you got me jealous! Hope it was a QM2K or something nice in trade.
 

Jagger100

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The real advantage is privacy. No transmission can be hacked if you can't copy the transmission. I find this ironic, considering.

Whereas any transmission that is recorded may not be hacked today, but will be hacked eventually and it's contents exposed eventually.
 

N4CR

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The real advantage is privacy. No transmission can be hacked if you can't copy the transmission. I find this ironic, considering.

Whereas any transmission that is recorded may not be hacked today, but will be hacked eventually and it's contents exposed eventually.
With conventional tech you raise a very good point indeed. Also it is practically immune to solar interference, as long as the satellite itself can handle the solar flare it would be more robust than most radio transmissions.
Quantum tech however.. throw security out the window if it's perfect. Anything created can be accessed, likely it is pretty sorted at a black project military level (they have been playing with it since the 50s) but we will be a long way off in civilian sector.
 
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