Although it is NASA, psyche The spacecraft is currently on its way to rendezvous with a unique, metallic, heavy asteroid floating between Mars and Jupiter, but it will still be quite some time before it reaches its destination. But researchers won’t wait until the three-and-a-half year, 280 million-mile journey is over to get the most out of this project. Even after just one month of space flight, psyche has already accomplished some impressive technological feats.
November 16th, NASA announced Installed in deep space optical communication experiment psyche It achieved “first light” earlier this week, beaming a data-packed near-infrared laser nearly 10 million miles away to Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. In addition, the DSOC operator could also “close the link.” This is a critical process where test data is transmitted simultaneously through both uplink and downlink lasers. Although only the first of many trials to come, this is a necessary step in NASA’s ongoing plans to develop far more powerful communication tools for future space travel. It is something that will be completed.
[Related: In its visit to Psyche, NASA hopes to glimpse the center of the Earth.]
Since the late 1950s, astronauts, ground personnel, and commercial companies have all relied on radio frequencies for data transfer and communication, thanks to a worldwide antenna array known as the Deep Space Network. As organizations like NASA aim to extend human presence beyond Earth in the coming decades, they will need to move from wireless systems to alternative systems such as infrared lasers. Such lasers are not only cost-effective, but can also store and transmit much more information within a shorter wavelength. For example, with further development of DSOC, it is expected that data transmission rates 10 to 100 times faster than today’s spacecraft radio systems will be achieved.
“Achieving First Light is one of many important DSOC milestones to be achieved in the coming months, and will enable high-speed transmission of scientific information, high-definition images, and streaming video to support humanity’s next great leap forward. “We’re paving the way for data communications to Mars,” said Trudy Cortez, NASA’s director of technology demonstrations. Thursday’s announcement.
NASA also noted that similar infrared communications have been successfully achieved in low Earth orbit and to and from the moon, but this week’s DSOC milestone will be the first test through deep space. This is even more difficult because the distance between the two Earths is relatively large and is getting wider. psyche. During the Nov. 14 test, it took about 50 seconds for data to reach researchers in California from the spacecraft. The farthest place from home psycheIt takes about 20 minutes to relay a photon encoded with data.That’s enough time for both Earth and Earth psyche As they drift further along their respective cosmic paths, the spacecraft and NASA’s laser arrays must adjust to the changes. Future tests will confirm whether ground and deep space technologies are up to the task.
[Related: NASA’s mission to a weird metal asteroid has blasted off.]
If it becomes the new standard, optical lasers will be a “boon” for researchers’ data collection on space missions, said Jason Mitchell, director of Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies for NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program. , I believe it will be useful for data collection. Enabling future deep space exploration.
“More data means more discoveries,” Mitchell said. NASA announcement.