January 18, 2013

Mona Lisa Smiles...from Space


The Mona Lisa is arguably one of the most famous portraits of a woman ever created. Leonardo da Vinci is its maker and it is believed to have been created sometime between 1503 and 1506. Recently, NASA attempted to inject some life back into this notable piece of artwork by using a laser to beam the picture to a spacecraft circling the moon.

Yes you read that correctly. According to reports from Yahoo, the incredibly powerful laser signal was able to display the piece nearly 240,000 miles away to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This marks the first time in history we have ever seen laser communication take place.

"This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," David Smith, a researcher working with the LRO's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter,which received the Mona Lisa message, added. "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 distance future, it may allow communication at higher data rates than present radio links can provide."

Image via Italian Renaissance Art

The successful experiment used the LRO due the fact that it encompasses a laser receiver that typically helps in closely analyzing the solar system, not view pricey and extremely famous works of art. However, in order for astronauts to actually view the laser portrait, the picture had to first be divided into different parts, with each only measuring out to around 150 by 200 pixels. Then, all of the parts were sent through the laser at a data rate of about 300 bits per second and the photo was seen in its full and original form, the report added.

"This pathfinding achievement sets the stage for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration," Richard Vondrak, a researcher with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, added, "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."

NASA has long been known for its extremely interesting advances in technology and just earlier today it was revealed the organization would be propelling cabins into space. They are described as being able to “fold like a shirt” and “fill with air like a balloon.” These interesting products could be utilized as early as 2016 in space.

After forming an alliance with Bigelow Aerospace in a contract worth a staggering $17.8 million, the pods will be around 13 feet long and 10 feet wide with an overall volume of about 560 cubic feet. For the weary astronaut/scientist, that really is the perfect amount of room to rest your weary cosmic head.

"This program starts a relationship that we think, and we hope, is going to be meaningful between NASA and ourselves," Robert T. Bigelow, the chief executive of Bigelow Aerospace, concluded in a statement.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey



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