Earth received a laser-beamed message from 10 million miles away in space this week. The message was sent from NASA’s Psyche spacecraft. It is currently on its way to orbit a metal asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. However, the message was sent using a new technology called deep space optical communications (DSOC).
Earth has just got a message sent by a laser from a whopping 10 million miles away. NASA used lasers to send data from a spacecraft called Psyche, which is exploring an asteroid. This test, done on November 14, might improve how spacecraft communicate.
The Psyche spacecraft uses a special system called DSOC for optical communications beyond the Earth-Moon system. It has a flight laser transceiver, a ground laser transmitter, and a ground laser receiver. The message that was sent was just a test, but it’s a sign of things to come. In the future, DSOC will allow us to send much more data back from deep space, including high-resolution images and videos. It will also allow us to communicate with spacecraft that are much farther away from Earth.
During the test, Psyche’s laser locked onto a powerful uplink laser beacon sent from JPL’s Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory. This beacon helped the laser aim at the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, which is almost 10 million miles away—40 times farther than the Moon.
Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA, called this a significant scientific breakthrough. Meera Srinivasan, operations lead for DSOC at JPL. She explained that it was a tough challenge, but for a short time, they managed to transmit, receive, and decode some data.
While optical communications have been sent from Earth’s orbit before, this is the farthest distance achieved by laser beams. The success of this test could be a game changer for communication in space exploration. Making it easier to send scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video for future missions, such as sending humans to Mars.
The successful transmission of the laser-beamed message from Psyche is a major milestone in space exploration. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of NASA scientists and engineers. Moreover, it also opens up a new era of communication with the cosmos.