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NASA

A team of Japanese researchers has sent infrared photons from a microsatellite to Earth in hopes they can one day be used to quickly communicate over vast distances, according to Wired.

Why it matters: Laser communication could allow more information to be transmitted faster and microsatellites — weighing about 100 pounds and costing roughly $2 million— are cheaper to launch, potentially opening space-based communication up to companies that don't currently have the resources to operate there.

What they did: The team, led by Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology physicist Masahide Sasaki, shot infrared laser beams from a satellite at a Tokyo suburb. Their vision is that one day the infrared photons could transmit information and replace today's radio waves, which can carry a limited amount of information. Messages carried by laser could potentially transfer million times more data per second, Sasaki told Wired. The challenge: Over long distances (to other planets, for example) only a few photons will arrive at the destination. The Japanese team and others — including physicists working on China's Micius satellite who conducted a similar experiment last month — are working on ways to quickly detect photons but currently Sasaki's team can "only detect about one in every hundred million photons sent from the satellite."

Go deeper: Todd Harrison, a space security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Wired the U.S. military may "be able to use a laser-beaming sat to communicate with drones." Additionally, the small size of them could allow for more to be launched.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
44 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

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