NASA Sets Record in Interplanetary Laser Communication

In a step towards expanding the internet beyond Earth, NASA successfully beamed messages using laser technology across a distance of nearly 16 million kilometers, demonstrating a key piece of galactic communication.

On November 16, NASA reported that the DSOC experiment transmitted data, encoded in a near-infrared laser, to the Hale Telescope at Caltech's Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California.

DSOC is installed on the newly launched Psyche spacecraft, designed to transmit high-bandwidth test data to Earth as part of its two-year technology demonstration.

NASA announced that the technology demonstration, featuring the flight laser transceiver—a state-of-the-art instrument on Psyche—achieved its "first light" in the early hours of Nov 14.

Laser communication utilizes the oscillations of light waves to transmit large amounts of data at remarkable speeds. It encodes optical signals within infrared beams, enabling messages to be conveyed to a receiver.

Scheduled for a Mars fly-by, Psyche will undergo continued tests to enhance the near-infrared laser communication method, ensuring its speed and reliability meet necessary standards.

Exchanging bits of light to and from deep space could be the game-changing future of how we communicate in space exploration.