Nov 21, 2023

Earth Just Received A Laser-Beamed Message From 16 Million Kilometers Away

Posted by in category: space

In a groundbreaking feat, a deep space experiment travelling on NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has successfully transmitted data via a near-infrared laser to Earth from 16 million kilometres away!

A deep space experiment traveling on NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has just beamed a message via laser to Earth from far beyond the Moon for the first time, an achievement that could transform how spacecraft communicate.

In the farthest-ever demonstration of this type of optical communication, the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) beamed a near-infrared laser encoded with test data from its position around 16 million kilometers (10 million miles) away – which is around 40 times farther than the Moon is from Earth – to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in California.

The DSOC is a two-year tech demonstration riding along on Psyche as it makes its way to its prime target, asteroid Psyche. The demo achieved “first light” on November 14, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which manages both missions, thanks to an incredibly precise maneuver that saw its laser transceiver lock onto JPL’s powerful uplink laser beacon at its Table Mountain Observatory, which allowed the DSOC’s transceiver to aim its downlink laser at Caltech’s observatory 130 kilometers (100 miles) away.

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