Facebook could be building 'space lasers' to boost satellite communications

Facebook could be building 'space lasers' to boost satellite communications 1
Bottom line: Despite Facebook’s outward appearance, it is far more than a mere social media platform. Indeed, one of its subsidiaries — PointView — could be working on something completely different: space lasers designed to communicate with satellites hovering in Earth’s orbit.

In theory, this tech would pave the way for faster data transfer speeds than traditional radio signals, while also boasting some major security improvements (it’s much harder to hack a laser, after all).

What Facebook plans to use PointView’s work for is unknown, but it’s possible that the company hopes a laser communication system will help it bring high-speed internet to areas that don’t already have it.

Speculation aside, what actual evidence is there that PointView (and Facebook) is working on such tech? Construction documents obtained by Spectrum IEEE reveal that PointView has been building two “detached” observatories on Mount Wilson in California for some time now – development allegedly began as early as July 2018.

Though the exact contents of those observatories have not yet been disclosed, all tertiary evidence seems to point toward communication-oriented space lasers. Previous tests conducted by Facebook that utilized similar technology have been successful in the past, and scientific papers published by some of Facebook’s top researchers throughout 2017 and 2018 describe “orbital laser” technology.

Regardless, we’ll know what PointView is truly working on when it launches its project — codenamed “Athena” — sometime in the coming months.

Image courtesy McDonald Observatory

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