NASA receives laser signal from 10 million miles away

WhatsApp Image 2023 11 27 at 10.17.54

On November 14, NASA received a laser signal emanating from an instrument accompanying the Psyche spacecraft, which is presently over 16 million kilometres away from Earth, en route to an enigmatic metallic asteroid. The spacecraft is now positioned more than 40 times farther than the average distance to the Moon and continues its journey.

This event marked the inaugural trial of NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) system, a cutting-edge communication link that conveys data through laser light instead of radio waves. NASA is conducting a series of tests to enhance communication speed in deep space across various missions.

NASA’s ground systems successfully detected the deep space laser photons from DSOC, and they were able to change information to and from deep space. While previous missions have experimented with laser communications in Earth’s orbit or during the journey to the moon and back, DSOC presents the most challenging and distant examination of laser communications. If successful, NASA anticipates that future astronauts bound for the moon or Mars may rely on laser light for communication with ground control.

The DSOC trial commenced at JPL’s Table Mountain Facility in California. Engineers activated an uplink beacon, a near-infrared laser directed towards Psyche. Roughly 50 seconds later, Psyche’s transceiver received the laser signal and transmitted its own laser signal back to the Palomar Observatory near San Diego. This process demands precise astronomical accuracy, facilitated by automated guidance systems directing Psyche’s laser. If the trial proves successful, the advantages are substantial: the shorter wavelengths of laser light, compared to radio waves, would enable space missions to transmit 10 to 100 times more information per unit time.

The November 14 trial marked the first trial for DSOC, and ongoing testing will occur as Psyche progresses toward its target asteroid in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Psyche is expected to reach its destination in 2029 and spend 29 months conducting surveys of the asteroid region.

More from Qonversations

Tech News

shutterstock 2450780999

Germany accuses Russia of cyber attack on Social Democratic Party

Tech News

changpeng zhao

Binance Founder Sentenced to four months in Prison for Money Laundering

Tech News

shutterstock 2428494735

South Korea is considering joining AUKUS and sharing advanced military technology

Tech News


Chinese firm acquires tech for flying car