NASA successfully beamed messages via laser across a record-breaking distance of almost 16 million kilometers (10 million miles)
This achievement is part of NASA's Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment, and the successful link is termed as 'first light.'
Optical communications, using higher frequencies of light like near-infrared, offer increased bandwidth and a significant boost in data speed compared to traditional radio waves.
The technology aims to pave the way for interplanetary communication, enabling high-definition video messages to and from distant locations, such as Mars.
The test utilized a laser transceiver on the Psyche spacecraft, currently on a tech demo mission headed for the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Engineers adapted optical fiber technology for deep space, transmitting infrared light waves in laser form for more efficient communication.
Data bits are encoded in laser-emitted photons, requiring advanced instruments, including a superconducting high-efficiency detector array.
Challenges include real-time system positioning adaptation and the need for continuous refinement to ensure the speed and reliability of this near-infrared laser communication method.