NASA’s psyche spacecraft sets new record in laser message transmission

NASA's Psyche probe set a new record by sending a laser message to Earth from a distance of 226 million kilometers, opening new frontiers in space communications

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has established a new record for transmitting laser messages to Earth, spanning an impressive distance of approximately 140 million miles, more than one and a half times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This milestone is part of a revolutionary era in deep-space optical communications, showcasing significant advancements in technology used for space exploration.

The spacecraft is equipped with the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology, which has exceeded initial test expectations, conducted at a distance about 80 times that between the Earth and the Moon. Recently, it has successfully transmitted data at a speed of 25 Mbps from a distance seven times greater, a notable achievement compared to the initial target of 1 Mbps. NASA points out that this speed is significantly higher than that of the most advanced radio communication systems previously used in space missions.

Transmission details and future expectations

On April 8, 2024, Psyche sent technical data usually transmitted via radio waves. This time, however, the data was also sent using an infrared laser beam, marking a significant advancement over previous tests, which were limited to transmitting preloaded videos and photographs. This test demonstrates how optical communications can be integrated with radio systems, paving the way for future missions, including the ambitious goal of sending humans to Mars.

Testing will continue in June, when Psyche will move to a distance equivalent to 2.5 times that between the Earth and the Sun. Challenges remain, particularly those associated with interruptions caused by adverse weather conditions, a limitation not present in radio communications. However, the success of upcoming tests could revolutionize communication methods in deep space.

Source: NASA

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