NASA has turned the Mona Lisa into the first digital image to be transmitted via laser beam from Earth to a spacecraft in lunar orbit using technology that may soon become routine.
The laser signal was fired from an installation in Maryland in the United States. It beamed the image of the iconic painting to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a distance 240,000 miles (384,400 km). The orbiter has been circling the moon since 2009.
The Mona Lisa transmission, NASA scientists said, is a major advance in laser communication for interplanetary spacecraft.
“This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances,” said David Smith, a researcher working with the LRO’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter — which received the Mona Lisa message.
“In the near future, this type of simple laser communication might serve as a backup for the radio communication that satellites use. In the more distance future, it may allow communication at higher data rates than present radio links can provide,” Smith added.
The LRO spacecraft was the prime choice to test out the novel communication method because the spacecraft was already equipped with a laser receiver. While most spacecraft exploring the solar system today are tracked using radio signals, NASA is tracking LRO via lasers as well.
But the timing had to be just right.
NASA used its Next Generation Satellite Laser Ranging Station at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to send the Mona Lisa signal to LRO. The team divided the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting into sections measuring 150 by 200 pixels and then transmitted them via the pulsing of the laser to the orbiter at a data rate of about 300 bits per second.
Once the lunar orbiter received the image, it reconstructed the photo, corrected for distortions created as the laser signal zipped through the Earth’s atmosphere, and then sent the image back to Earth using its normal form of communication – radio waves.
“This pathfinding achievement sets the stage for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration,” Richard Vondrak, another researcher with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter said. He explained that is “a high data rate laser-communication-demonstration that will be a central feature of NASA’s next moon mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.”
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer is due to be launched toward the moon later this year and will focus on mapping the lunar atmosphere and environment.
Who knows? Mona Lisa may well mark the start of a renaissance in high-speed satellite communications.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1NATO: ‘Ready to deploy forces’ in response to all security challenges
- 2Ukraine troops quit Luhansk airport, accusing Russia of turning tide of war
- 3Europe under pressure to take military action in Ukraine
- 4Merkel defends arming Kurdish fighters in Iraq
- 5Israel announces it will seize 400 acres in West Bank
- 1Israel announces it will seize 400 acres in West Bank
- 2At least 6 confirmed dead in Paris apartment blast
- 3Germany breaks political taboo by arming Kurds against Islamists in Iraq
- 4NATO: ‘Ready to deploy forces’ in response to all security challenges
- 5Seriously ill boy removed from UK hospital found in Spain
- 1Israel announces it will seize 400 acres in West Bank
- 2Russia hits back at Canada after sarcastic jibe over Ukraine crisis
- 3Canada sends hilarious barb to Russia over Ukraine ‘incursions’
- 4Footage released of 9-year-old on firing range moments before she accidently kills instructor
- 5Japan sounds bluefin warning, calls for 50% catch cut
- 1Hoverbike on the horizon | euronews, hi-tech
- 2Japanese company brings the beach lifestyle to business | euronews, world news
- 3Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier as we consume too much | euronews, economy
- 4Canada sends hilarious barb to Russia over Ukraine ‘incursions’ | euronews, world news
- 5#ن: How an Arabic letter was reclaimed to support Iraq’s persecuted Christians | euronews, world news
- 6NATO: ‘Ready to deploy forces’ in response to all security challenges | euronews, world news
- 7Ellen MacArthur: making waves on a journey to a circular economy | euronews, the global conversation
- 8US warns Russia that Ukraine aid delivery would be ‘viewed as an invasion’ | euronews, world news
- 9Renewing your driving licence within the EU | euronews, u talk
- 10Russian aid convoy is ‘direct invasion’ says Ukraine | euronews, world news
- 11Rosetta the comet hunter arrives at its target | euronews, space
- 12Elephants smell better | euronews, science
- 13At least 6 confirmed dead in Paris apartment blast | euronews, world news
- 14Wikimedia says taking a selfie is monkey business | euronews, world news
- 15Hundreds of Ukranian troops retreat across border to Russia | euronews, world news
- 16No candidates are likely to thwart Erdogan, says polling analyst | euronews, news
- 17Islamists seize border post between Syria and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights | euronews, world news
- 18Voting in Turkey’s Presidential election underway | euronews, world news
- 19Sephardic Jews eye return to Spain | euronews, reporter
- 20WW1 centenary day ends with ‘Lights Out’ across UK | euronews, world news
Wires > News
- 07:58 CET Australia to step up formal partnership with NATO at summit
- 06:06 CET Australia to scrap plan for dumping near Great Barrier Reef – AFR
- 05:44 CET Fiji says Syrian rebels want compensation, removal from terror list
- 05:38 CET Rights group slams Thai detention of child migrants and refugees
- 05:32 CET China replaces Communist Party leader in coal-rich province amid…
- 05:10 CET Hong Kong police arrest 19 in pro-democracy scuffles
- 04:49 CET Tunisian deputy survives assassination attempt
- 04:40 CET U.S. forces carry out operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia