Save up to 25% off ALL T-shirts from the NeatoShop! Hurry - sale ends Nov 29, 2015.

Beaming Mona Lisa to the Moon with Laser

Why is the Mona Lisa smiling? You would too if your image is beamed to the moon with laser!

NASA scientists digitized the famous painting and sent it almost 240,000 miles away to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using laser pulses from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland:

For last March's Mona Lisa maneuver, researchers encoded a black-and-white version of Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic masterpiece as a series of values in a 152-by-200-pixel grid. Each value represented a shade of black to gray to white, ranging from zero to 4,095. The signal for each pixel was then piggybacked on the ranging station's laser-tracking pulses: Each pulse was fired during one of 4,096 super-short designated time slots, at a rate of about 300 bits per second.

As the pulses were received in lunar orbit, LOLA's software used the precise timing of each pulse to figure out the grayscale value for a given pixel — and reassembled the black-and-white image. The process wasn't perfect: Atmospheric turbulence introduced laser transmission errors, even when the sky was clear. To accommodate the 15 percent error rate, the researchers used Reed-Solomon data coding, which is the same method used to smooth out the bumps in the playback of CDs and DVDs.

300 bits per second? That's a 300 baud modem! Definitely not broadband.

Alan Boyle of NBC's Cosmic Log blog explains: Link | has the video clip explaining how they did it: Link

Newest 4
Newest 4 Comments

So, are they saying laser communication has an advantage over radio, or whatever they've been using?

When I was a kid, men who were ON THE MOON actually sent back MOVING PICTURES of themselves golfing, driving around on the moon, and stuff. You can believe me or not.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Beaming Mona Lisa to the Moon with Laser"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More