NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment has achieved a groundbreaking milestone, demonstrating “first light” by successfully sending data via laser to and from a location nearly 10 million miles away (16 million km) – approximately 40 times farther than the Moon is from Earth.

DSOC sets record for unprecedented distance

The DSOC experiment, part of the recently launched Psyche spacecraft, accomplished this feat by beaming a near-infrared laser, loaded with test data, to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in California. This achievement marks the farthest-ever demonstration of optical communications, positioning DSOC as a transformative technology for deep space communication, said NASA.

First Light achievement on November 14

NASA said the “first light” achievement occurred on November 14 when DSOC’s flight laser transceiver, located on Psyche, locked onto an uplink laser beacon transmitted from the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory at JPL’s Table Mountain Facility near Wrightwood, California.

“Test data also was sent simultaneously via the uplink and downlink lasers, a procedure known as “closing the link” that is a primary objective for the experiment,” NASA wrote on its website.

Psyche mission and DSOC’s role

DSOC’s goal is to send high-bandwidth test data to Earth during its two-year technology demonstration while Psyche travels to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The successful “first light” achievement is a crucial step towards enabling high-data-rate communications capable of supporting future space exploration, including human missions to Mars, said NASA.

DSOC’s goal: High-bandwidth data transmission

DSOC aims to demonstrate data transmission rates 10 to 100 times greater than current state-of-the-art radio frequency systems used by spacecraft. This advancement holds the potential for transmitting scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video, contributing significantly to future human missions to Mars.

NASA’s perspective on DSOC

“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,” said Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

DSOC breakthrough ushers in a new era of Deep Space communication

NASA says its DSOC experiment represents a significant leap in space communication technology, opening new possibilities for data-intensive missions and supporting the vision of sending humans to Mars. The successful test marks the beginning of a transformative era in deep space communication, promising more discoveries and advancements in the realm of space exploration.

“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,” said Jason Mitchell, Director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies Division within NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) programme. “More data means more discoveries.”

According to Source of photo: internet