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December 2, 2023 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm


NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, launched on October 13, 2023, aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, has achieved a remarkable milestone in space exploration. By successfully firing a laser signal back to Earth, the mission marks a crucial step in our understanding of the metallic asteroid Psyche, situated between Mars and Jupiter.

Psyche Mission Overview:

The Psyche mission’s primary objective is to investigate the asteroid Psyche, a unique metallic body believed to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an ancient planet.

Positioned between Mars and Jupiter, Psyche provides a rare opportunity to directly study a planetary core, offering valuable insights into the formation processes of terrestrial planets like Earth.


Core Identity: Determine whether Psyche is a planetary core or unmelted material.

Surface Age Assessment: Analyze the relative ages of different regions on Psyche’s surface.

Composition Comparison: Compare Psyche’s elemental composition with Earth’s core.

Formation Conditions: Investigate whether Psyche’s formation conditions were more oxidizing or reducing than Earth’s core.

Topography Characterization: Examine surface features on Psyche.

Scientific Instruments:

Multispectral Imager: Captures images across various wavelengths.

Gamma Ray & Neutron Spectrometer: Analyzes elemental composition.

Magnetometer: Measures magnetic fields, providing evidence of a remanent magnetic field on Psyche.

X-band Gravity Science Investigation: Studies the gravitational effects of the asteroid on the spacecraft.

Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC): Tests laser-based communication technology using near-infrared wavelengths for faster data transmission.

Significance of Deep Space Optical Communications:

Psyche is the pioneering spacecraft equipped with NASA’s DSOC transceiver, marking a shift from traditional radio wave communication.

DSOC encodes data in near-infrared light photons, offering data rates at least ten times higher than current radio systems.

This technology enables enhanced imaging, extensive scientific data transmission, and potential video streaming.

DSOC’s near-infrared light facilitates faster data transmission compared to radio waves, although it lacks the latter’s penetration and distance capabilities.


NASA’s Psyche mission, propelled by groundbreaking technologies like DSOC, embarks on an exciting journey to unravel the mysteries of Psyche, shedding light on the formation and composition of planetary cores. The successful laser signal transmission underscores the mission’s significance in advancing space exploration capabilities.


December 2, 2023
8:00 am - 5:00 pm