Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon

Date:
January 17, 2013
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon, scientists with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the spacecraft from Earth.

To clean up transmission errors introduced by Earth's atmosphere (left), Goddard scientists applied Reed-Solomon error correction (right), which is commonly used in CDs and DVDs. Typical errors include missing pixels (white) and false signals (black). The white stripe indicates a brief period when transmission was paused.
Credit: Xiaoli Sun, NASA Goddard

As part of the first demonstration of laser communication with a satellite at the moon, scientists with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the spacecraft from Earth.

Related Articles


The iconic image traveled nearly 240,000 miles in digital form from the Next Generation Satellite Laser Ranging (NGSLR) station at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., to the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) instrument on the spacecraft. By transmitting the image piggyback on laser pulses that are routinely sent to track LOLA's position, the team achieved simultaneous laser communication and tracking.

"This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," says LOLA's principal investigator, David Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "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 distant future, it may allow communication at higher data rates than present radio links can provide."

Typically, satellites that go beyond Earth orbit use radio waves for tracking and communication. LRO is the only satellite in orbit around a body other than Earth to be tracked by laser as well.

"Because LRO is already set up to receive laser signals through the LOLA instrument, we had a unique opportunity to demonstrate one-way laser communication with a distant satellite," says Xiaoli Sun, a LOLA scientist at NASA Goddard and lead author of the Optics Express paper, posted online January 17, that describes the work.

Precise timing was the key to transmitting the image. Sun and colleagues divided the Mona Lisa image into an array of 152 pixels by 200 pixels. Every pixel was converted into a shade of gray, represented by a number between zero and 4,095. Each pixel was transmitted by a laser pulse, with the pulse being fired in one of 4,096 possible time slots during a brief time window allotted for laser tracking. The complete image was transmitted at a data rate of about 300 bits per second.

The laser pulses were received by LRO's LOLA instrument, which reconstructed the image based on the arrival times of the laser pulses from Earth. This was accomplished without interfering with LOLA's primary task of mapping the moon's elevation and terrain and NGSLR's primary task of tracking LRO.

The success of the laser transmission was verified by returning the image to Earth using the spacecraft's radio telemetry system.

Turbulence in Earth's atmosphere introduced transmission errors even when the sky was clear. To overcome these effects, Sun and colleagues employed Reed-Solomon coding, which is the same type of error-correction code commonly used in CDs and DVDs. The experiments also provided statistics on the signal fluctuations due to Earth's atmosphere.

"This pathfinding achievement sets the stage for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD), a high data rate laser-communication demonstrations that will be a central feature of NASA's next moon mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE)," says Goddard's Richard Vondrak, the LRO deputy project scientist.

The next step after LLCD is the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), NASA's first long-duration optical communications mission. LCRD will help develop concepts and deliver technologies applicable to near-Earth and deep-space communication.

NASA Goddard developed and manages the LRO mission and the LOLA instrument. The LRO mission is funded by NASA's Planetary Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. NGSLR is funded by the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters. LLCD is funded through a partnership with NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program, and Science Mission Directorate. LCRD is funded through a partnership with SCaN and NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Xiaoli Sun, David R. Skillman, Evan D. Hoffman, Dandan Mao, Jan F. McGarry, Leva McIntire, Ronald S. Zellar, Frederic M. Davidson, Wai H. Fong, Michael A. Krainak, Gregory A. Neumann, Maria T. Zuber, David E. Smith. Free space laser communication experiments from Earth to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in lunar orbit. Optics Express, 2013; 21 (2): 1865 DOI: 10.1364/OE.21.001865

Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117183400.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2013, January 17). NASA beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117183400.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "NASA beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the moon." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117183400.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Video Shows Stars If They Were as Close to Earth as Sun

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Russia&apos;s space agency created a video that shows what our sky would look like with different star if they were as close as our sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) walks us through the cool video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Dog-Loving Astronaut Wins Best Photo of 2015

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Retired astronaut and television host, Leland Melvin, snuck his dogs into the NASA studio so they could be in his official photo. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us, the secret is out. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

NASA Holds Memorial to Remember Astronauts

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) NASA is remembering 17 astronauts who were killed in the line of duty and dozens more who have died since the agency&apos;s beginning. A remembrance ceremony was held Thursday at NASA&apos;s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins