NASA’s DSOC experiment is the agency’s first demonstration of optical communications beyond the Earth-Moon system. DSOC is a system that consists of a flight laser transceiver, a ground laser transmitter, and a ground laser receiver. New advanced technologies have been implemented in each of these elements.
Tried-and-tested radio frequency communications from deep space are approaching their bandwidth limit, raising the need for upgraded communications systems. Future space missions, meanwhile, are expected to transmit huge volumes of science data, including high-definition images and video, significantly increasing the bandwidth required.
NASA’s Psyche mission, which will explore a metal-rich asteroid of the same name, launched October 13, 2023.
Psyche launched on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration, intended to test high-data-rate laser communications, remains integrated into the spacecraft.
The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration’s flight laser transceiver is shown at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California in April 2021, before being installed inside its box-like enclosure that was later integrated with NASA’s Psyche spacecraft.
See images of the Psyche spacecraft and Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC).