Outer space just got a little more cultured. NASA scientists have successfully beamed an image of the Mona Lisa to its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using a special laser signal, a feat that represents a major leap in laser communication technology, Space.com reports. "This is the first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances," one researcher said in a statement.
Soon, laser communiqués like this one could serve as backup for traditional radio communication; someday, they could trump radio by transmitting data at higher rates, the researcher said. For the test, NASA broke the Mona Lisa into 150- by 200-pixel sections and beamed them up via laser at about 300 bits per second. The satellite then reassembled the image, applied a pixel-correction method, and sent it back to earth via radio waves. Sure enough, the image transferred correctly. (Read more NASA stories.)