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.

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Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

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Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

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