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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday May 21, 2024
Tuesday May 21, 2024

Earth receives record-breaking laser message from 16 million miles away

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Nasa’s Psyche spaceship marks milestone in deep space optical communications

Earth has recently received a groundbreaking laser-beamed message from a record-breaking distance of 16 million kilometres (approximately 10 million miles). While the prospect of interstellar communication might evoke thoughts of extraterrestrial contact, the source of this signal is closer to home – NASA’s Psyche spaceship.

Unlike conventional communication methods utilizing radio waves, this achievement employed ‘optical communication,’ utilizing different wave types for reliable messaging over vast distances. Dr. Jason Mitchell, Director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies Division at NASA, highlighted the significance, stating, “Optical communication is a boon for scientists and researchers who always want more from their space missions, and will enable human exploration of deep space. More data means more discoveries.”

Excitement surrounds this milestone, with Trudy Kortes, Director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA HQ, emphasizing its importance, stating, “Achieving first light is one of many critical DSOC milestones in the coming months, paving the way toward higher-data-rate communications capable of sending scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video in support of humanity’s next giant leap: sending humans to Mars.”

This achievement marks the first successful transmission of a message from beyond the Moon. Meera Srinivasan, working with Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC), explained, “[The] test was the first to fully incorporate the ground assets and flight transceiver, requiring the DSOC and Psyche operations teams to work in tandem. It was a formidable challenge, and we have a lot more work to do, but for a short time, we were able to transmit, receive, and decode some data.”

While the signal didn’t herald extraterrestrial communication, it signifies a significant leap in humanity’s ability to communicate and retrieve information from deep space expeditions.

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