NASA admits message laser-beamed from 10 million miles away has reached Earth

A message from 10 million miles away has reached Earth, NASA has announced.

But it is not some kind of alien message warning us that we're all going to die, or that they come in peace, however. The message, sent by a laser beam, actually originates from NASA, as the boffins try to find better ways of communicating with technology in space.

The experiment was undertaken by the Deep Space Optical Communications tool travelling onboard NASA's Psyche spacecraft, and it transmitted the message from further away than the Moon currently floats.

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The message is now thought to be the furthest ever optical communication sent in history was even encoded just to make sure the experiment worked correctly.

What the message contained, however, is not known, but a NASA spokesman said that the "flight laser transceiver – a cutting-edge instrument aboard Psyche capable of sending and receiving near-infrared signals – locked onto a powerful uplink laser beacon transmitted from the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Table Mountain Facility near Wrightwood, California.”

And Trudy Kortes, director of Technology Demonstrations at NASA HQ, said: “Achieving first light is one of many critical DSOC milestones in the coming months, paving the way toward higher-data-rate communications capable of sending scientific information, high-definition imagery, and streaming video in support of humanity’s next giant leap: sending humans to Mars.”

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In the past, NASA has used radio waves to communicate with space, but laser beams are able to carry more data and transfer at a faster rate.

The success of the experiment has been dubbed a "boon" for science and could change now "enable human exploration of deep space," NASA's Dr Jason Mitchell, director of the Advanced Communications and Navigation Technologies Division within NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation programme, explained.

Some news outlets have reported that the message came from 100 million miles away, but NASA has confirmed that it is 10 million, or 16 million kilometres, to be exact.

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