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NASA's Psyche space probe communicates via laser with Earth from a distance of 226 million kilometers

NASA's Psyche space probe communicates via laser with Earth from a distance of 226 million kilometers

We recently wrote about how the story of the NASA Voyager 1 space probe took a positive turn with the restoration of part of contact (for now only engineering data). Communication in space is complex, and when distances are very large things become even more complicated. In light of future human missions to Mars in the coming decades NASA Other space agencies are experimenting with new systems. One of them is on the plane NASA's Psychic Space Probe Directed towardsMetallic asteroid 16 Psyche (Which will arrive in 2029).

Optical system, based on Near infrared lasershould make it possible to significantly increase theBandwidth Available for broadcast from those based on radio waves (traditionally used). This means the ability to send more data back to Earth. In December last year A “friendly” The test saw the probe transmit a video of a cat playing with a laser pointer and now further evidence of this is coming Optical communications in deep space s DSOC.

NASA Psyche: New laser transmission from more than 200 million kilometers away

second What has been reported D Jet Propulsion Laboratory And by the space agency no NASA's Psychic Space Probe I was able to hire Optical communication system (However it is not the main one and is still in beta) from a distance 226 million kilometersmuch higher than those previously achieved.

NASA psychology

Meera Srinivasan (from JPL) mentioned that “We delivered approximately 10 minutes of replicated spacecraft data during the flyby on April 8. Until then, we had been sending test and diagnostic data to our Psyche downlinks, and this represents an important milestone for the project because it demonstrates how communications can interact Optical with spacecraft radio frequency communications system”.

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Compared to the December 2023 test, the transmission speed decreased significantly (max speed was 267Mbps). In the Exam to April 2024 In fact, the limit has been reached 25 Mbps, with a minimum target of 1 Mbps, but the distance was also seven times greater. It is interesting to note that NASA selfDuring testing, both radio frequencies were sent to… Deep Space Network Both were seen via lasers at Caltech's Palomar Observatory in California.

NASA psychology

The amount of data sent and received during testing was small and included images of pets as well as engineering data. Overall, the data traveled about 450 million kilometers (round trip). One problem to be solved is the variability of weather conditions on the ground which can lead to interruptions in optical transmission when particularly dense clouds are present. the Better performance of the optical system by laser Instead it is obtained with completely clear skies.

As written above, Deep space optical communications system to NASA self It's not major yet. Further testing (including by other sensors and satellites) will be necessary before space transmissions using optical systems can be definitively validated and then those using radio waves can be eliminated. However, over the years, we will see more and more tests of this type both in low Earth orbit and at increasing distances, which is a turning point for sending and receiving data from space.