August 30th, 2011

NASA Tests Communication Scenarios For Near-Earth Asteroids Irish Weather Online

NASA’s Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) team has commenced testing communication scenarios for near-Earth asteroids.
The RATS team also is evaluates technology, human-robotic systems and extravehicular equipment in the high desert near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Field testing provides a knowledge base that helps scientists and engineers design, build and operate better equipment, and establish requirements for operations and procedures. The Arizona desert has a rough, dusty terrain and extreme temperature swings that simulate conditions that may be encountered on other surfaces in space.

August 25th, 2011

NASA’s lasercom system aims to beam a HD video feed from Mars

As cameras technology has allowed us to increase the resolution of the images we capture and video we watch, so has the bandwidth required to transfer that imagery. In space, the amount of data that can be sent is currently limited due to the radio frequency (RF) systems being relied upon.
NASA is trying to fix that limitation by testing a new communications system called a Laser Communication Relay (LCR). LCR is a desirable replacement because the optical/laser communication system (lasercom) allows for much higher data transfer rates while retaining the same size, weight and power requirements of existing RF systems. What that also means is a smaller optical system can still transmit at a decent data rate too, but save on power, weight, and size on board a satellite.
The difference in data rates is quoted as being as much as 100x that of existing RF systems and is the equivalent of trying to transfer data over broadband compared to Wi-Fi. The example NASA gives is the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which manages a 6Mbps data rate. The lasercom system would increase that to 100Mbps, meaning a high resolution image would arrive on Earth in 5 minutes rather than the current 90 minutes MRO takes.

October 16th, 2009

New concept may enhance Earth-Mars communication ESA

Direct communication between Earth and Mars can be strongly disturbed and even blocked by the Sun for weeks at a time, cutting off any future human mission to the Red Planet. An ESA engineer working with engineers in the UK may have found a solution using a new type of orbit combined with continuous-thrust ion propulsion. The European researchers studied a possible solution to a crucial problem affecting future human missions to Mars: how to ensure reliable radio communication even when Mars and Earth line up at opposite sides of the Sun, which then blocks any signal between mission controllers on Earth and astronauts on the red surface. The natural alignment, known as a conjunction, happens approximately every 780 days, and would seriously degrade and even block transmission of voice, data and video signals.

May 5th, 2005

Mars Telecommunications Orbiter: Interplanetary Broadband

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is expected to land a $500 million contract to build the Mars Telecommunication Orbiter, said Roger Gibbs, MTO project manager at JPL in Pasadena, California. The MTO is intended by NASA to pioneer the use of lasers in planet-to-planet communication; the intended launch date will be sometime in 2009. The Mars Telecommunication Orbiter will be the first interplanetary spacecraft whose main mission is to provide communications services to other missions. It will orbit Mars at a higher altitude than most orbiters, about 2,800 miles above the Martian surface. This will provide an enhanced line of site to Earth. The spacecraft will communicate with Earth via two radio bands and a new optical communications terminal, which will demonstrate the use of a near-infrared laser beam for interplanetary communications.

April 14th, 2005

Mars and back in 40 minutes The Age

“The speed of light is far too slow for the internet of the future,” says Vinton Cerf, the man often called one of the fathers of the global communications system on which most of the world now depends. He was speaking in Melbourne yesterday to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, drawing a picture of the huge social and economic impact the internet will have on the world in the next five years and beyond. His problem with the speed of light is related to an interplanetary communications “backbone” due to be implemented in 2009 to speed investigation of the solar system. Scientists will use internet technology to communicate with robots touring Mars, but, Dr Cerf said, there was a problem – even at the speed of light, a message took 20 minutes to get to Earth and 20 more to get back to Mars.

March 20th, 2005

Scientists Start Testing Model Of Manned Mars Lander RIA Novosti

The manned Mars mission project has entered a new phase, as Russia’s Keldysh Research Institute has started tests of the components and equipment of an interplanetary craft. They are now testing a model of the future Martian lander in a wind tunnel.

March 12th, 2005

NASA Mars Program Under Scrutiny


November 15th, 2004

NASA To Test Laser Communications With Mars Spacecraft

Work is underway to establish the first interplanetary laser communication link. The $300 million NASA experiment, if successful, will connect robotic spacecraft at Mars with scientists back on Earth via a beam of light traveling some 300 million kilometers. For scientists eager to download bandwidth-intensive imagery and other data collected by planetary orbiters, probes and landers, the laser communications would offer a dramatic breakthrough in the amounts of information spacecraft can reliably transmit back to Earth.

November 8th, 2004

Cell phone map may aid Mars rovers The Albuquerque Tribune

Cell phone companies would have a hard time setting up service on Mars. There are no maps of where communications signals will break up and no way to tell how radio waves will travel through the planet’s thin atmosphere or how the iron-rich soil might blur them, at least not yet. It’s not likely cell phone companies will set up service on the planet anytime soon, but a network could certainly help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as it sends rovers to explore the remote and often rocky terrain, said Steve Horan, director of the Center for Space Telemetering and Telecommunications Systems at New Mexico State University.

September 27th, 2004

Private initiative plans research flight to Mars until 2009 German TV ZDF

An association from scientists, engineers and technicians plans a research flight up to the year 2009 to Mars. Up to then the Marburger association AMSAT wants to send a satellite as well as a probe according to data of a speaker to the neighbour planet of the earth. The association has approximately 1200 members country widely, that work all to a large extent honorary on the project.