Mysterious Laser Transmission Strikes EarthSci-Tech

May 02, 2024 20:22
Mysterious Laser Transmission Strikes Earth

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NASA, the American space agency, has announced that Earth has received a mysterious signal from outer space. The signal was transmitted by NASA's new spacecraft, named "Psyche," and originated from a distance of about 140 million miles away. In October 2023, NASA launched a space mission to send Psyche towards an asteroid called 'Psyche 16', which is believed to be made mostly of metal, a rare occurrence in our solar system. Located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, this asteroid gave its name to the robotic explorer, Psyche. Along with its mission to explore the asteroid, Psyche also had the task of testing laser communications.

Equipped with the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) system, Psyche aimed to enable laser communication across vast distances in space, providing faster connections compared to current methods. Although Psyche mainly used radio frequency communication, the optical communications technology proved its capability. In an impressive achievement, the laser communications demo successfully transmitted engineering data from a distance of over 140 million miles, which is 1.5 times the distance between Earth and the sun, after connecting with Psyche's radio frequency transmitter. The DSOC also established a successful connection with Psyche's radio transmitter, enabling the transmission of information and engineering data directly from the spacecraft to Earth.

At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, a scientist explained that on April 8, they received around 10 minutes of replicated spacecraft data. This replicated data was sent through laser communications, while the original Psyche data was transmitted to ground control using radio-frequency channels on NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN). The purpose of this was to evaluate the effectiveness of laser communications compared to traditional methods. NASA's demonstration of optical communications has demonstrated the ability to transmit test data at a maximum rate of 267 Mbps using the near-infrared downlink laser of the flight laser transceiver, which is similar to the speed of broadband internet. However, due to the spacecraft's increased distance, the transmission rate of the data is now slower.

During a test on April 8, the spacecraft successfully sent test data at a maximum rate of 25 Mbps, surpassing the project's objective of achieving at least 1 Mbps at that distance. Psyche is reported to be stable and in good condition as it continues its journey towards the Psyche 16 asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter.

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Psyche  NASA  Psyche from NASA