Message sent from ship 16 million kilometers from Earth arrived successfully

Message sent from ship 16 million kilometers from Earth arrived successfully
Message sent from ship 16 million kilometers from Earth arrived successfully

“NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is displayed in a clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on December 8, 2022. The gold-capped flight laser transceiver can be seen of DSOC, near the center, connected to the spacecraft.

Photo: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

It has been 39 days since the Psyche mission was successfully launched into space, which aims to explore an asteroid composed of metals that receives the same name as the mission. On board this is an infrared laser with which the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment is being carried out. (We recommend: Colombia and the dream of having nuclear energy, again on the table)

From there, with the ship located 16 million kilometers from Earth, like going back and forth about 20 times from the Moon, a coded message was sent by laser to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory, in San Diego, California, United States.

This is the furthest optical communication that has been successfully carried out in history and, according to the US Space Agency (Nasa), it could be the first step in what would be a revolution in this type of communications in space.

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“Achieving first light is one of many critical DSOC milestones in the coming months, paving the way to higher data rate communications capable of delivering scientific information, high-definition images and streaming video in support of the next great leap of humanity: sending humans to Mars,” explained Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA headquarters in Washington. (You may be interested in: Why is there a short circuit between science and the non-specialized public?)

The mission aims to reach the asteroid belts of Mars and Jupiter to study their surfaces. During the two years that the mission will last, the laser is programmed to send different types of messages, with which it is expected to advance optical communications.

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