NASA has been working for years to revolutionize long-distance space communication using powerful lasers. Earlier this month, they proved it works.
NASA used the Psyche spacecraft which was launched to investigate an asteroid NASA.gov confirmed. The craft also had an “experimental optical communication system, called DSOC (Deep Stace Optical Com). The successful test came earlier this month when Psyche was nearly 10 million miles away, according to PC Mag. For comparison, the Moon is only 238,900 miles away.
NASA didn’t say what the speed of the initial test was, but the eventual goal is to make more data travel 10 to 100 times faster than is now possible.
NASA declared that is the “farthest-ever demonstration of optical communications.” The near-infrared lasers used a previously untested transceiver to receive and send data, PCMag.com reported. This first step shows that future spacecraft could send higher-quality images, and maybe conduct streaming through the lasers.
The way the system worked is that an observatory in California shined a laser beacon into the sky, which enabled the Psyche craft to lock on to it and orient the transceiver to point the downlink to a separate observatory with the capabilities of decoding the signals, PCMag.com reported.