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  • richardmitnick 5:41 am on October 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Bringing robotic and human spaceflight closer together is critical for humankind's space future, , , DSOC-Deep Space Optical Communications, FLT-Flight Laser Transceiver, JPL's Table Mountain Facility, , PSYCHE mission proposal, School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, STMD-NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, The mission plans launch in 2022 and arrival at Psyche between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in 2026,   

    From JPL-Caltech: “Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons” 

    NASA JPL Banner


    October 18, 2017
    Gina Anderson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington

    Andrew Good
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

    Written by Leonard(?)

    May 23, 2017
    Artist’s Concept of Psyche Spacecraft with Five-Panel Array
    This artist’s-concept illustration depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. The artwork was created in May 2017 to show the five-panel solar arrays planned for the spacecraft.
    The spacecraft’s structure will include power and propulsion systems to travel to, and orbit, the asteroid. These systems will combine solar power with electric propulsion to carry the scientific instruments used to study the asteroid through space.
    The mission plans launch in 2022 and arrival at Psyche, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, in 2026. This selected asteroid is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. It offers evidence about violent collisions that created Earth and other terrestrial planets.
    Mission: Psyche. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

    Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons
    The Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC) device will beam high data rates to a telescope at Palomar Mountain, California. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA

    A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

    The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA’s Psyche mission utilizes photons — the fundamental particle of visible light — to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

    Tapping the advantages offered by laser communications is expected to revolutionize future space endeavors – a major objective of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

    The DSOC project is developing key technologies that are being integrated into a deep space-worthy Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT), high-tech work that will advance this mode of communications to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6. Reaching a TRL 6 level equates to having technology that is a fully functional prototype or representational model.

    As a “game changing” technology demonstration, DSOC is exactly that. NASA STMD’s Game Changing Development Program funded the technology development phase of DSOC. The flight demonstration is jointly funded by STMD, the Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) Program and NASA/ HEOMD/Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN).

    Work on the laser package is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    “Things are shaping up reasonably and we have a considerable amount of test activity going on,” says Abhijit Biswas, DSOC Project Technologist in Flight Communications Systems at JPL. Delivery of DSOC for integration within the Psyche mission is expected in 2021 with the spacecraft launch to occur in the summer of 2022, he explains.

    “Think of the DSOC flight laser transceiver onboard Psyche as a telescope,” Biswas explains, able to receive and transmit laser light in precisely timed photon bursts.

    DSOC architecture is based on transmitting a laser beacon from Earth to assist line­ of ­sight stabilization to make possible the pointing back of a downlink laser beam. The laser onboard the Psyche spacecraft, Biswas says, is based on a master-oscillator power amplifier that uses optical fibers.

    The laser beacon to DSOC will be transmitted from JPL’s Table Mountain Facility located near the town of Wrightwood, California, in the Angeles National Forest. DSOC’s beaming of data from space will be received at a large aperture ground telescope at Palomar Mountain Observatory in California, near San Diego.

    Biswas anticipates operating DSOC perhaps 60 days after launch, given checkout of the Psyche spacecraft post-liftoff. The test-runs of the laser equipment will occur over distances of 0.1 to 2.5 astronomical units (AU) on the outward-bound probe. One AU is approximately 150 million kilometers-or the distance between the Earth and Sun.

    “I am very excited to be on the mission,” says Biswas, who has been working on the laser communications technology since the late 1990s. “It’s a unique privilege to be working on DSOC.”

    The Psyche mission was selected for flight in early 2017 under NASA’s Discovery Program, a series of lower-cost, highly focused robotic space missions that are exploring the solar system.

    The spacecraft will be launched in the summer of 2022 to 16 Psyche, a distinctive metal asteroid about three times farther away from the sun than Earth. The planned arrival of the probe at the main belt asteroid will take place in 2026.

    Lindy Elkins-Tanton is Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe. She is the principal investigator for the Psyche mission.

    “I am thrilled that Psyche is getting to fly the Deep Space Optical Communications package,” Elkins-Tanton says. “First of all, the technology is mind-blowing and it brings out all my inner geek. Who doesn’t want to communicate using lasers, and multiply the amount of data we can send back and forth?”

    Elkins-Tanton adds that bringing robotic and human spaceflight closer together is critical for humankind’s space future. “Having our robotic mission test technology that we hope will help us eventually communicate with people in deep space is excellent integration of NASA missions and all of our goals,” she says.

    In designing a simple, high-heritage spacecraft to do the exciting exploration of the metal world Psyche, “I find both the solar electric propulsion and the Deep Space Optical Communications to feel futuristic in the extreme. I’m proud of NASA and of our technical community for making this possible,” Elkins-Tanton concludes.

    Biswas explains that DSOC is a pathfinder experiment. The future is indeed bright for the technology, he suggests, such as setting up capable telecommunications infrastructure around Mars.

    “Doing so would allow the support of astronauts going to and eventually landing on Mars,” Biswas said. “Laser communications will augment that capability tremendously. The ability to send back from Mars to Earth lots of information, including the streaming of high definition imagery, is going to be very enabling.”

    As a “game changing” technology demonstration, DSOC is exactly that. NASA STMD’s Game Changing Development program funded the technology development phase of DSOC. The flight demonstration is jointly funded by STMD, the Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program and NASA/ HEOMD/Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN). Work on the laser package is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    For more information about NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions program, visit:


    For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:


    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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    NASA image

  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , PSYCHE mission proposal   

    From ASU: “Psyche: Journey to a Metal World” 

    ASU Bloc


    Undated entry
    No writer credit

    Psyche is both the name of an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter — and the name of an ASU-proposed mission to visit that asteroid. The mission was chosen by NASA as a semi-finalist for the agency’s Discovery Program, a series of low-cost missions to solar system targets. NASA is expected to make its decision by late 2016.

    If the Psyche Mission is chosen for flight, the spacecraft will likely launch in 2020 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion. After a six-year cruise, the mission plan calls for one Earth year spent in orbit around the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

    Psyche, the asteroid

    Only the 16th minor planet to be discovered — hence its formal designation, 16 Psyche — the asteroid was found in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it for the Greek mythological figure Psyche.

    What gives 16 Psyche great scientific interest is that it is made of metal. It appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the Sun’s planetary system. At 16 Psyche scientists will explore, for the first time ever, a world made not of rock or ice, but of metal.

    The asteroid is most likely a survivor of violent hit-and-run collisions, common when the solar system was forming. Thus 16 Psyche may be able to tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial planets came to be.

    Every world explored so far by humans has a surface of ice or rock or a mixture of the two. Deep within the terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, 16 Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the terrestrial planets.


    16 Psyche follows an orbit in the outer part of the main asteroid belt, at an average distance from the Sun of 3 astronomical units (AU); Earth orbits at 1 AU. Psyche is large (about 150 miles in diameter), dense (7,000 kg/m³), and made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. It is the only known place in our solar system where we can examine directly what is almost certainly a metallic core.

    What is Psyche’s story? One scenario is that long ago, a protoplanet that had separated internally into a rocky mantle and iron core suffered violent impacts that stripped away its mantle, leaving only the metal core. Or is Psyche a survivor of some more unusual process not yet imagined? What can it tell us about how planets everywhere form and about what’s inside the Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury?

    The science goals of the Psyche Mission are to understand these building blocks of planet formation and to explore first-hand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche really is a protoplanetary core, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth’s core, and what its surface is like.

    Psyche, the mission

    If selected by NASA for flight, the Psyche Mission will launch in November 2020. Following a six-year cruise to 16 Psyche, the spacecraft will arrive in 2026. Plans calls for it to spend 12 months at the asteroid, performing science operations from four staging orbits, which become successively closer.


    The spacecraft’s instrument payload includes magnetometers, multispectral imagers, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a radio-science experiment.


    The Psyche Multispectral Imager
    The Multispectral Imager provides high-resolution images using filters to discriminate between 16 Psyche’s metallic and silicate constituents. The instrument consists of a pair of identical cameras designed to acquire geologic, compositional, and topographic data. The purpose of the second camera is to provide redundancy for mission-critical optical navigation. The science team is based at Arizona State University.

    • Psyche Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer
    The Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer will detect, measure, and map 16 Psyche’s elemental composition. The instrument is mounted on a 2-m boom to distance the sensors from background radiation created by energetic particles interacting with the spacecraft and to provide an unobstructed field of view. The science team is based at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

    • Psyche Magnetometer
    The Psyche Magnetometer is designed to detect and measure the remanent magnetic field of the asteroid. It is composed of two identical high-sensitivity magnetic field sensors located at the middle and outer end of a 2-m (6-foot) boom. The science team is based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California Los Angeles.

    • Radio Science
    The Psyche mission will use the X-band radio telecommunications system to measure 16 Psyche’s gravity field to high precision. When combined with topography derived from onboard imagery, this will provide information on the interior structure of Psyche. The science team is based at MIT and JPL.
    Science team

    Principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), heads the Psyche Mission scientific team. Other SESE scientists include Jim Bell (deputy principal investigator and co-investigator), Erik Asphaug (co-investigator), and David Williams (co-investigator).

    Other co-investigators are David Bercovici (Yale), Bruce Bills (JPL), Richard Binzel (MIT), William Bottke (SwRI), Ralf Jaumann (DLR), Insoo Jun (JPL), David Lawrence (APL), Simon Marchi (SwRI), Timothy McCoy (Smithsonian), Ryan Park (JPL), Patrick Peplowski (APL), Carol Polanskey (JPL), Carol Raymond (JPL), Benjamin Weiss (MIT), Dan Wenkert (JPL), Mark Wieczorek (IPGP), and Maria Zuber (MIT).
    Science partners

    Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), General Dynamics, Glenn Research Center (GRC), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Smithsonian Institution, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Space Systems/Loral (SSL), Tesat Spacecom, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Yale University.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

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