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NASA to Discuss Optical Communications Demo Riding With Psyche

Published on Monday, September 18, 2023 | 5:42 am
The flight transceiver for NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration can be identified by its large tube-like sunshade on the Psyche spacecraft, seen here inside a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Launching with the NASA mission on Oct. 5, the technology demonstration will test high-bandwidth optical communications in deep space for the first time.

NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to discuss the agency’s first test of high-bandwidth optical communications beyond the Moon. The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration is launching aboard the Psyche spacecraft Thursday, Oct. 5.

Audio of the call will stream live on NASA’s website.

The following participants will discuss the goals of this demonstration and benefits of high-data-rate laser communications that could be used by future NASA missions:

  • Jeff Volosin, acting deputy associate administrator and program manager for Space Communications and Navigation, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Tawnya Laughinghouse, program manager for Technology Demonstration Missions, Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Abi Biswas, DSOC project technologist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California
  • Meera Srinivasan, DSOC ground system product delivery manager and operations lead, NASA JPL

The Deep Space Optical Communications experiment is a pioneering technology demonstration that will take laser communications to the next frontier: deep space. The transceiver will launch aboard the Psyche spacecraft, NASA’s first mission to the metal-rich asteroid Psyche. The experiment will test high-bandwidth optical communications to Earth during the first two years of the spacecraft’s journey to the main asteroid belt. While the transceiver is hosted by Psyche, the tech demo will not relay Psyche mission data.

Laser communications can empower missions with data rates at least 10 to 100 times higher than current radio telecommunications systems of comparable size and power, enabling higher-resolution images, larger volumes of science data, and even streaming video to be transmitted to Earth. Ultimately, the experiment may pave the way for broadband communications that will help support humanity’s next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars.

A division of Caltech in Pasadena, JPL manages the Deep Space Optical Communications experiment for the Technology Demonstration Missions program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and the Space Communications and Navigation program within the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate.

Arizona State University leads the Psyche mission. NASA JPL is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations.

For more information about the optical communications demo, visit:

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