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NASA to Deploy Spacecraft for Deep Space Laser Communications Experiment

Optical communication

NASA to Deploy Spacecraft for Deep Space Laser Communications Experiment

NASA will launch an experiment to determine whether laser communications can support deep space missions. 

A system, called Deep Space Optical Communications, will share a ride with the space agency’s Psyche asteroid explorer set for launch on board a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Oct. 5 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Both spacecraft will head toward 16 Psyche, a metal-rich asteroid that orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

The two-year DSOC experiment will use near-infrared lasers for data transmission to the Hale Telescope at the California Institute of Technology’s Palomar Observatory, The Register reported. The system will receive commands using a transceiver equipped with a camera and a telescope that will detect near-infrared laser uplink beamed from NASA’s Optical Communication Telescope Laboratory.

Abi Biswas, DSOC’s project technologist working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the experiment aims to demonstrate how lasers can enable increased data return capacity compared to existing space radio systems. He noted that high-bandwidth laser data transmission was already proven for near-Earth orbit and moon-orbiting satellites but the mode of communication presents challenges in deep space missions.

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Category: Space

Tags: Abi Biswas Deep Space Optical Communications laser communications NASA Psyche space The Register