Mona Lisa Sent to Outer Space via Laser

Feat represents a major advancement in laser communication

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 18, 2013 10:14 AM CST

(Newser) – 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.

A painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci representing Mona Lisa, is displayed during a presentation in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2012.
A painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci representing Mona Lisa, is displayed during a presentation in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2012.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Yannick Bailly)
Obscured by viewers, a copy of the Mona Lisa  is seen on display in Spain's Prado Museum in Madrid, Tuesday Feb. 21, 2012.
Obscured by viewers, a copy of the "Mona Lisa" is seen on display in Spain's Prado Museum in Madrid, Tuesday Feb. 21, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul White)
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