NASA Figures Out a New Way to Bring Satellite Data Back Down To Earth

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This undated artist, ... ] NASA/AP

Communicating with satellites is trickier than you might think.

NASA may be one of the best at launching all sorts of aircraft into space but bringing the data they gather back down to Earth for analysis can be surprisingly tricky.

Currently, a satellite would have to move to be within the range of a dedicated station on the ground to transmit data or simply come back down to Earth. 

That may change, the space agency announced Wednesday it is beginning testing a portable space communications system from ATLAS Space Operations.

Known as ATLAS Links, the system is a lightweight, mobile structure with four antennas that constantly surveys the skies for signals, Engadget reported. It only requires a power source and internet access, so it really can be used many places. The system can also handle multiple satellites at a time, such as NASA's miniature CubeSats that fly in groups.

The system is in the testing phase but this new form of communication and data transfer will likely be used for other applications beyond NASA's mission. 

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