NASA Sends Image of the Mona Lisa to the Moon and Back

The same super-fast laser tech­nol­o­gy that sent clear images of Mars back to Earth just cleared anoth­er hur­dle clos­er to home by send­ing an image of the Mona Lisa to the sur­face of the moon and back again.

Sci­en­tists at NASA want­ed to know whether they could use laser puls­es to “com­mu­ni­cate” with the lunar sur­face using the same tool that tracks the posi­tion of the Lunar Recon­nais­sance Orbiter.

The team sent a dig­i­tized ver­sion of Leonardo’s famous­ly inscrutable sig­no­ra from the God­dard Space Cen­ter in Mary­land 240,000 miles up to a laser trans­mit­ter aboard the orbit­ing space­craft. Pix­els trav­eled one at a time and were adjust­ed for bright­ness by con­trolled delays in their arrival time. The team cor­rect­ed errors in the image using com­mon DVD and CD tech­niques.

Pret­ty much every­body knows what the Mona Lisa looks like, so maybe that’s why they picked her face, instead of, well, mine. Maybe NASA is hop­ing her name will be changed to Moona Lisa.

The Lunar Recon­nais­sance Orbiter (explained above) began its lunar orbit near­ly four years ago. Laser puls­es beam down to the moon and then bounce back to form images of the sur­face. Like those star­tling pic­tures of Mars, laser tech­nol­o­gy is help­ing devel­op a crys­tal clear topo­graph­i­cal map of the moon, includ­ing the tracks of two astro­nauts’ unsuc­cess­ful trek to the top of a crater and the site of a lost Russ­ian rover.

The Mona Lisa’s trip to the moon is impor­tant because the image was sent at the same time as laser puls­es that track the craft’s position—the first out­er space con­fer­ence call—and it sets the stage for future high-data trans­mis­sions between Earth and its satel­lite explor­ers.

via The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent

NASA Presents “The Earth as Art” in a Free eBook and Free iPad App

Leonard Nimoy Nar­rates Short Film About NASA’s Dawn: A Voy­age to the Ori­gins of the Solar Sys­tem

NASA’s “Spot the Sta­tion” Will Text or Email You When the Space Sta­tion Pass­es Over Your Home

Kate Rix writes about dig­i­tal media and edu­ca­tion. Vis­it her at .

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