For the first time, the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) instrument on NASA’s Psyche spacecraft sent a message via laser to Earth from beyond the Moon, according to IFL Science.
In its most distant demonstration to date, DSOC successfully transmitted a near-infrared laser encoded with test data from its location approximately 16 million kilometers above Earth to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory Station in California (USA) .
“This achievement is a major milestone for DSOC, paving the way for high data rate communications, capable of sending scientific information, high-resolution images and streaming video to support the next leap forward,” said Ms. “Humanity’s goal: sending humans to Mars.” Trudy Cortes, director of technology demonstrations at NASA Headquarters.
Optical communications have been used to send messages from Earth orbit to spacecraft, but this is the furthest distance a laser beam has ever traveled.
Laser communications can transmit enormous amounts of data at unprecedented speeds. By condensing data into vibrations of light waves – encoding optical signals, it can send messages to receivers, via infrared beams (invisible to humans).
NASA often uses radio waves to communicate with more distant missions to the Moon, and both use electromagnetic waves to transmit data, but the advantage of this laser beam is that it can send much more data. Could.
According to NASA, the goal of the DSOC technology demo is to demonstrate transmission speeds 10–100 times greater than today’s leading radio communications systems.
Allowing more data to be transmitted would allow future missions to carry higher-resolution scientific instruments, as well as enable faster communications on potential deep space missions, such as live video streams from the surface of Mars.
“Optical communications is a boon for scientists and researchers who are always eager to learn more from their space missions,” said Dr. Jason Mitchell, director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies Division in NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Program. ” “More data means more discoveries.”