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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The internet, or at least the protocols behind it, are being extended into space. The man credited by many with having created the net, Vint Cerf, explains his vision of an interplanetary net.
Testing Deep Space Laser Communications TelecomDirect News
When astronauts first touch down on Mars, they may talk back to Earth on a direct laser link rather than over a conventional radio. The light-based technology could also be used to communicate with future robotic spacecraft. NASA and MIT Lincoln Laboratory researchers are laying the groundwork for the first interplanetary laser communications system. In 2010, the Mars Laser Communication Demonstration (MLCD) will test the first deep-space laser communication link, which promises to transmit data at a rate nearly ten times higher than any existing interplanetary radio communication connection
One of NASA’s Mars rovers has sent pictures relayed by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter for the first time, demonstrating that the orbiter could serve as a communications link if needed. The link-up was part of a set of interplanetary networking demonstrations paving the way for future Mars missions to rely on these networking capabilities. The American and European agencies planned them as part of continuing efforts to cooperate in space exploration.