A NASA laser has been successfully launched in a deep space test.
In November. 14, NASA I picked up a laser signal that was fired from an instrument that was fired with spirit The spacecraft, which is currently more than 10 million miles (16 million kilometers) from Earth and heading towards a mysterious metal asteroid. (The spacecraft is more than 40 times the average distance Earth’s moonAnd he still travels far.)
This moment marked NASA’s first successful test Optical communications in deep space The DSOC system, a next-generation communications link, sends information not by radio waves but instead by laser light. It’s part of a series of tests NASA is conducting to speed up communications at depth spaceon various missions.
Related: NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission will test next-generation laser communications in space
“Achieving first light is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Abi Biswas, a system project technology expert at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Ground-based systems have successfully detected deep-space laser photons from DSOC.” Agency statement.
“We were also able to send back some data, which means we were able to exchange ‘bits of light’ to and from deep space,” Biswas added.
Other missions have experimented with laser communications Land Orbit or on the way to the moon and back, but DSOC gives laser communications its toughest and most far-reaching test yet. If successful, NASA officials expect astronauts in the coming decades to head to the Moon or to the moon Marsthey may use laser light as a means to manipulate ground control.
This DSOC test began in California, at JPL’s Table Mountain facility. There, in the hills outside Los Angeles, engineers turned on the uplink beacon, a near-infrared laser pointed in Psyche’s direction. After about 50 seconds, the transceiver on Psyche received the laser and returned its laser signal to Palomar Observatory, near San Diego.
The mission requires astronomical precision, and robotic guidance systems help guide Psyche’s laser. But if the test is successful, the benefits will be significant: Because laser light has shorter wavelengths than radio waves, using optical light would allow space missions to transmit 10 to 100 times more information per unit time than they currently do.
The November 14 test marked DSOC’s “first light,” and engineers will continue to test the system during Psyche’s missions to the asteroid of the same name, which is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Psyche is supposed to arrive there in 2029, then spend 29 months surveying the strange metallic world.