Washington (Uttam Hindu News): NASA’s recently launched Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment on the Psyche spacecraft has for the first time achieved “first light” by sending and receiving data via laser on the far side of the Moon. . Optical communication has been demonstrated between low Earth orbit and the Moon’s orbit. DSOC is the first test in deep space.
The DSOC experiment could change the way spacecraft communicate. It sent a near-infrared laser encoded with test data from a distance of approximately 16 million kilometers – about 40 times the distance to the Moon from Earth – to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California. The US space agency said it was the most distant demonstration of optical communications ever.
DSOC is configured to send high-bandwidth test data to Earth during its two-year technology demonstration as Psyche travels to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The tech demo achieved “first light” in the early hours of November 14 after its flying laser transceiver. The uplink beacon helped the transceiver aim its downlink laser back to Palomar (which is 130 kilometers from Table Mountain), while automated systems at the transceiver and ground stations fine-tuned its pointing.
Achieving first light is one of several important DSOC milestones in the coming months, said Trudy Cortes, director of technology demonstrations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Test data was also sent simultaneously through the uplink and downlink lasers, a process known as “link closing” which is the primary objective of the experiment. Although the technology demonstration is not transmitting Psyche mission data, it works closely with the Psyche mission-support team to ensure that DSOC operations do not interfere with the spacecraft.
Tuesday morning’s test was the first to fully involve ground assets and flight transceivers, requiring the DSOC and Psyche operations teams to work closely together, said Meera Srinivasan, head of DSOC operations at JPL. It was a tough challenge, and we have a lot more work to do, but for a short time, we were able to transmit, receive, and decode some data.