NASA scientists successfully beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to the Moon using lasers.
After centuries, we finally know why Mona Lisa is smiling the way she does in da Vinci‘s famous painting. It’s because she’s the first woman to make it to the Moon. Scientists at NASA decided to test their ability to communicate via laser to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) by sending an image of the famous painting. NASA already uses lasers to keep track of the LRO’s location, and were able to piggyback the Mona Lisa on top of the same trackingcommunication. This marks the longest one-way communication via laser, as the light made its way across the 240,000 miles between the Earth and Moon.
“This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances,” said lead scientist David Smith in a press release. “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.”
Having demonstrated the success of the transmission, NASA will considering using laser communications with its next major Lunar mission.
“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 in the release.
I’m guessing that this is something that da Vinci would have been thrilled to see if he were still around.
NASA has a video of the experiment, which you can see here: