A forthcoming NASA mission to probe an unusual metallic asteroid will also be used to carry out tests on laser communications between Earth and deep space, says the agency.
The mission to “Psyche”, scheduled to launch in summer 2022 and reach the asteroid belt some four years later, will test the ability of deep-space optical communications (DSOC) hardware to transmit data at a much higher bandwidth than is possible with conventional radio-frequency (RF) technology.
Similar laser communication systems are already starting to be deployed in space - for example the European Data Relay System - although these are in orbit around Earth. Psyche would mark the first time that such an approach has been tested in a deep-space environment.
Read more at http://optics.org/news/8/10/34