Washington, November 23: Earth has successfully received laser-beam communication from a distance of 16 million kilometres, or 10 million miles, in a ground-breaking accomplishment. That's the longest demonstration of optical communications, according to NASA, forty times further than the Earth-moon distance. The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) instrument aboard NASA's Psyche mission made the experiment feasible. It successfully launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Centre on October 13 and has since returned to Earth with a laser-beamed message.

A communication link was established between the Psyche spacecraft and the Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory in California on November 14. During the test, it took around 50 seconds for the near-infrared photons from DSOC to reach Earth from Psyche. Aliens May Soon Detect Life on Earth Through Radio Signals Leaked From Planet, Say Scientists.

Interestingly, the 'first light' is the successful creation of the communications link. According to Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA Headquarters, "achieving first light is one of many critical DSOC milestones in the coming months, paving the way towards higher-data-rate communications capable of sending scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video in support of humanity's next giant leap."

The Psyche spacecraft's primary goal is to investigate and learn more about the distinctive metallic asteroid Psyche, which will help us understand the evolution of planet formation and core dynamics. Laser signals will be sent and received throughout the two-year experiment from increasingly far-off places as it moves towards its target. The spacecraft is scheduled to enter orbit after arriving at the asteroid in 2029. Aliens Might Have Received Signals Sent by NASA, Though It Could Take Them Nearly 27 Years to Reply; Here’s Why.

First light is a huge accomplishment, according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory project technologist Abi Biswas. Ground technology successfully detected the deep space laser beams from DSOC's flight transceiver aboard Psyche. We could also transmit data, meaning we could trade 'bits of light' with deep space, he added.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Nov 23, 2023 11:42 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).