Insider Wales Sport: NASA receives laser-beamed message from 10 million miles away

NASA’s Psyche mission has made a groundbreaking achievement in space communications. The mission, which is on its way to study a metal asteroid in the asteroid belt, has successfully demonstrated the most distant use of laser communications in space.

Known as Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC), the experiment aims to test the transmission and reception of data using high-bandwidth laser communications. In a recent milestone, data encoded in a laser was successfully sent from nearly 10 million miles away to the Hale Telescope in California.

This accomplishment is significant because it showcases the potential for laser communications to facilitate faster data transfer for future space missions. It opens up possibilities for communication with humans exploring Mars and other far-reaching destinations.

DSOC is the first experiment to send laser communications across deep space. During the “first light” test, data was encoded in photons, or quantum light particles, and received and decoded by detector arrays on Earth.

However, the DSOC team still faces challenges in refining the laser’s pointing accuracy and addressing the time it takes for laser messages to travel across vast distances in space.

While DSOC continues to push boundaries in space communications, the Psyche spacecraft is also preparing for its primary mission of studying the metal asteroid. It is expected to reach its target in July 2029.

The Psyche mission holds promise for shedding light on the origin of the solar system and the composition of early planetary building blocks. By studying the metal asteroid, scientists hope to gain valuable insights into the formation of our celestial neighborhood.

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NASA’s achievement with DSOC signals a new era in space communications, marking a leap forward in our technological capabilities. As we venture further into the depths of space, faster and more efficient data transfer will be crucial in unlocking the mysteries of the universe.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

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