Is there WiFi on the space station
Internet on the moon, Mars and the ISS
Reliable internet access on the moon, on Mars or for astronauts on a space station? Contact between rover and probe in the depths of space? These are just a few of the innovative technologies ESA is working on today for future exploration missions.
What do earth observation or navigation satellites have in common with astronauts that send images from the ISS in real time? They all transmit data to Earth. In the future, data exchange in space will become more and more complex. In the future, rovers on Mars or inhabited lunar bases will be supported by a whole fleet of relay and navigation satellites. Astronauts will fly missions to asteroids hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth and will have to share data with other astronauts, control centers and modern systems in their spacecraft. All of these data streams have to be linked, networked and controlled.
Innovative research and development supports future exploratory missions
"We are actively researching how today's technical standards for devices such as cell phones, laptops and portable computers can be applied to a new generation of networked space hardware," says Nestor Peccia, responsible for software development for the ground segment at the ESA control center in Darmstadt.
“Our future goes beyond networking, however: we are investigating how agencies such as ESA and NASA work together in space and how data can be exchanged in real time between the agencies' spacecraft and the ground stations. We are also looking for reliable technical standards for the navigation and flight control of spacecraft. "
Development of open technical standards through international cooperation
Since 1982, experts from ESA, NASA and other important space organizations (ASI, CNES, DLR, UKSA, Roskosmos, JAXA, CNSA, etc.) and industry have met regularly to develop new, open standards for data communication within the framework of the advisory committee for Develop space data systems (CCSDS).
Developing standards for space hardware and data exchange for space agencies, commercial space companies and satellite manufacturers will also pay off in the short term.
Data links from satellites to earth stations and between satellites
The requirements for communication between satellites will increase in the future and spacecraft should then be able to establish high-performance ad-hoc radio links with every other spacecraft - even if they are orbiting Mars at 15,000 km / h.
In May 2008, the ESA Mars Express probe served as an important data relay node for NASA's Phoenix lander during its descent and landing on the Red Planet. Mars Express will repeat this technical feat this August in support of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission.
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In December 2011, the global network of ESA ground stations allowed Russian mission control three hours a day to contact their Phobos-Grunt mission on the way to Mars (the probe was lost for other reasons shortly after its launch).
Astronaut machine interfaces on Mars
In October this year, ESA astronaut André Kuipers will test the remote control of a test rover located in the ESA control center in order to simulate the communication link from orbiter to rover on a planet like Mars. This, too, will require a stable communication architecture so that astronauts, robots and control centers can work together effectively.
“Setting technical standards and a communications architecture is not the most outstanding part of space exploration, but it is absolutely essential to ensure that outstanding efforts like astronauts' flight to Mars work as planned when the time comes,” says Nestor Peccia.
Note: The CCSDS workshop spring 2012 is organized by ESA. High-level participants from 20 different space nations will take part. The workshop will take place from 16.-19. April 2012 in Darmstadt.
Further information is available from the CCSDS - Darmstadt.
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