Questions and answers about communication and technology in space. Part 2

    We continue the story about communications, gadgets and communications in space: in the first part we studied how astronauts get online on the ISS, which gadgets are used in work, on vacation and in communication with friends and family.

    In this part, we will discuss a new batch of questions: why in difficult space conditions earth gadgets do not fit and what do NASA and Roscosmos think about the interplanetary Internet. / Flickr / trilobite1985 / CC




    Can technical equipment be used in outer space and on other planets?


    There are a lot of gadgets in the ISS, but they break down quite often, for example, one of the most common problems is the breakdown of screens, which is associated with a lot of pressure or just too long work.

    In outer space, much more factors will affect the technology , so when developing such equipment, you should consider radiation protection, reliability (durability) and the cooling system.

    Higher levels of radiation in space over time will damage the integrated circuit. In addition, during solar storms, the electromagnetic field of the planet sometimes reflects radiation. Conventional consumer-class technology is unlikely to survive such an impact without damage.

    And on the Moon, ordinary Earth equipment will be exposed to cosmic and solar radiation and will not be able to function normally, says the Quora user, citing NASA material . Even the very reliable Omega Speedmaster watches, which are provided to all astronauts with NASA consent, have not survived a walk on the moon. During the second exit to the surface, one of the watch crystals broke and astronaut Dave Scott had to put on his Bulova spare watch. The real cause of the breakdown is unknown (it could just be an accident), but this once again proves that not every earth device can withstand being in space.

    But of course, equipment designed specifically for space exploration can withstand even more severe conditions. Each year, as part of the Innovative Advanced Concepts program, NASA selects promising projects .

    In 2014, support was also given to Steven Oleson of the NASA Cleveland Research Center. He believes that the unique hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s satellite Titan should be explored with the help of a “submarine”, since the most interesting can be hidden at a depth. But compared to terrestrial submarines, the apparatus on Titan will have at least one advantage - it will not have to surface to communicate, since, unlike water, hydrocarbon transmits radio waves. They plan to send such a boat to Titan in the 2040s.

    In 2016, among the selected projects, there are several more devices that can work effectively in space. For example, a multifunctional lightweight planetary probe for extreme reconnaissance and locomotion conditions (Javid Bayandor of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute) and a powerful research probe for use on Venus (Ratnakumum Bugga from NASA's laboratory in Pasadena). A complete list of all funded projects can be found here .


    / Flickr / ryan somma / cc

    Is there interplanetary internet?


    The interplanetary communications system is in place: for example, in 2013 we received about 25 TB of data from one of the satellites in orbit on Mars (MRO). But the data transfer rate is 5.2 Mb / s, so sending scientific information takes 7.5 hours, and one picture from a HiRISE camera takes 1.5 hours. Which, in principle, by cosmic standards is not so bad. (See “Data Dilemma” in the source ). But as you know, there is no limit to perfection.

    The Russian side tested the laser communication system (SLS) for transmitting data from the Earth to the ISS Russian segment and vice versa in 2012. The system consisted of an onboard laser communication terminal (BTLS) at the ISS and a ground-based laser terminal (NLT) at Arkhyz station in the North Caucasus.

    It was possible to achieve a speed of 125 Mb / s and transfer 2.8 GB of data. However, nothing is known about the results of the study and the planned second stage: the data were either classified or the experiment was suspended, the authors of CosmoBlog say. (Read more about the laser communication system here in the chapter "Experiments on the implementation of space laser communication").

    Perhaps for this reason, the network has much less material about Russian research and development, especially in the field of communications in space. But perhaps Roscosmos poses other priority tasks (a list of which can be found here ). By the way, the development of interstellar communication is listed there only in the section “Remote perspectives of space exploration”.

    In 2013, the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) two-way laser communication system was successfully tested on the moon. Data is transmitted using a short pulse laser and satellites. There are 4 telescopes at the ground station in New Mexico, each of which transmits encrypted data with infrared pulses. A satellite in lunar orbit receives signals and transmits them to the moon using optical and electrical pulses.

    At the same time, NASA scientists managed to increase 4,800 timesdata transfer rate (compared with the previous similar project) - it amounted to 622 Mbit / s. The speed of the return signal from the ground station was 20 Mbit / s, which is also quite good, given the distance at which the device is 385,000 km from the Earth's surface. This technology has increased the quality of transmitted images and 3D broadcasts from outer space, regardless of weather conditions.

    The success of laser technology has contributed to the development of research on the possibilities of communication in outer space. Thus, by the end of 2017, the NASA team plans to manufacture and fully test the prototype laser communications device that will be used in the Discovery mission in 2020.

    The optical communication system in deep space DSOC will be able to function from asteroids close to Earth to Jupiter, the data transfer speed from a distance of 63 million kilometers (from Mars) will be 250 Mb / s, and the weight of the device will be only 25 kg at a power of 75 watts. The weight of today's system on the lunar orbiting probe is 60 kg with a power of 120 watts. (See “Lasers to deep space and beyond” in the source ).

    Data transmission is now carried out at even greater distances: for example, Voyagers, launched back in 1977, continue to send pictures to the Earth, being at a distance of 193 billion kilometers from it. The receipt of these signals is possible thanks to the NASA deep space communications network (DSN). But modern technology will take the exchange of data between objects in space to a completely different level: perhaps the connection speed will actually become space and we can get online access to cameras on rovers and vehicles exploring other planets.

    What else do we write about in the first corporate IaaS blog:


    And in our blog on Habré:


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