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NASA's spacecraft will soon be able to send signals from a distance of two and a half times the distance between the Earth and the Sun – PCW

NASA's spacecraft will soon be able to send signals from a distance of two and a half times the distance between the Earth and the Sun – PCW

The experience gained will be used to create a communication channel between Earth and Mars.

Hardly a week goes by without an important event in space exploration occurring. The development of this system, which is experiencing its second peak, has accelerated once again, and, as in the 1960s, an acute competitive situation is beginning to arise between the great powers. However – unlike the situation half a century ago – now, alongside the two big guns, there are also smaller but equally ambitious actors who want to do it all in the first place. In addition to America and Russia, China, Japan and India also want a piece of the cake.

Last October, NASA launched a large expedition, whose main mission is to approach an asteroid extremely rich in iron and nickel. The minibus-sized device will reach Mars in 2026, and from there it will finally approach the far edge of the asteroid belt with an evasive maneuvering momentum.

In addition to dealing with the possibility of extracting valuable mineral resources, the mission also aims to test a new communications system. The essence of the innovative and previously unapplied method is that it communicates with ground control not by radio waves, but by infrared laser beams.

At present, this method is considered encouraging in terms of partial results, as its effectiveness has already been proven in practice. At the time of the test run, the asteroid named Psyche was 226 million kilometers from Earth. According to testing conducted at the beginning of the month, the connection also worked at 25Mbps at this distance, which is several times higher than the previously expected minimum.

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The agency will test the deep-space optical communications system again in June, because it will then be at its furthest distance from us, two and a half times the distance between the Sun and Earth. If they can stabilize communications at this distance, NASA can consider it a major success.

The team will test the system again in June, when the distance between Earth and the Sun will be 2.5 times. This is the maximum distance between Mars and Earth, and if the approach is successful, there is the possibility of creating a stable network between Earth and Mars. The first data transfer using this method took place last December, when a video clip with a cat was transferred in just two minutes.

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