The European Data Relay System began servicing Europe's Earth observing Copernicus programme yesterday, transferring observations in quasi-real time using cutting-edge laser technology.
The EDRS-SpaceDataHighway will now begin providing a commercial service to the European Commission's Copernicus Sentinels - the first and only of its kind. EDRS is a public-private partnership between ESA and Airbus Defence and Space, with ESA supporting the initial technology development and the company providing the commercial service. The European Commission is EDRS's anchor customer through its Sentinel-1 and -2 missions.
EDRS accelerates the transmission of data from low-orbiting satellites like the Sentinels to the end user on the ground. It does so by locking onto the satellites with a laser beam as they pass below, and immediately relaying the information to European ground stations via a high-speed radio beam.