NASA has tested laser space communications at a distance of 10 million miles

The Palomar Observatory in California managed to receive a signal from the Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) device installed on the Psyche spacecraft. The received data was used to adjust the laser beacon, which sent to Psycheya a response signal. The first test of the new space-scale communications link was deemed a success, and now scientists and engineers will work on tuning the system and testing the ability to transmit complex information.

Laser communication for space should replace radio communication, the main complaint to which is the low speed of data transmission, no more than 10 Mbit/s. For comparison, the prototype laser system has a data rate of 200 Mbit/s. In addition, it is hoped that with the help of a laser will be easier to cope with interference, which creates the Earth’s atmosphere.

The most challenging part of the new technology is the need to aim the receiver and transmitter at each other. The first communication test was conducted at a distance of 16 million kilometers, but Psyche will then fly to an object of the same name in the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter, where it will work. From there, it takes 20 minutes for the light to reach Earth, during which time both the planet and the spacecraft shift significantly. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly adjust the position of the transmitter and receiver, and this project is dedicated to working on it.

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