Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sat Comm for Mars?

Wow, tell me that this in not an innovative idea!  It seems that NASA may be trying to get out of the Sat Comm business, as far as Mars is concerned. 

NASA has ask for information from commercial partners to supply satellite communications on future Mars rover missions.  The commercial partner would own and operate a satellite communications network that would provide communication to NASA.  

NASA is not just limiting the field to US commercial entities but also, universities, nonprofits, NASA centers, federally funded research and development centers, in addition to U.S. government and international organizations. 

This call for information on alternative communications network does begin to make sense when one takes into account that NASA is concerned about communications gaps in the 2020s.  

At this time, NASA has the  Curiosity and Opportunity rovers on the Martian surface.  For high speed communications with these rovers, NASA uses the high gain and high power relay radios aboard  Odyssey, which was launched in 2001, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter(MRO), launched in 2005. These two will be augmented by  the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft which arrives Sept. 21, and the 2016 arrival of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter.  This should more than double the communication bandwidth.  But NASA has nothing scheduled after MAVEN arrives.  

From the NASA article:
  • This creates the need to identify cost-effective options to ensure continuity of reliable, high-performance telecommunications relay services for the future
Read the complete article from NASA HERE

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