Designing the interplanetary web.
A confirm of the importance of satellite telecommunications and of Conferences like ESTEL, strongly oriented to satellite communication at a wide range, comes from a recent note of ESA, about the need of a reliable Internet access on the Moon, near Mars, for astronauts on a space station, for satellites. Astronauts or unmanned satellite traveling across the universe need to send data back home. And the complexity of sharing information across space is set to grow.
In the future, rovers on Mars or inhabited bases on the Moon will be supported by orbiting satellite fleets providing data relay and navigation services. Astronauts on ISS, or satellites travelling hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth, will need to link up with other astronauts, control centers and sophisticated systems on their vessels. All of these activities will need to be interconnected, networked and managed.
Nestor Peccia, responsible for ground segment software development at ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, recently announced that the technical space community is researching how today’s technical standards for devices like mobile phones, laptops and portable computers can be applied to a new generation of networked space hardware. Moreover he said that they are looking how agencies like ESA and NASA will cooperate in orbit and how to interchange data in real time between different organisations’ spacecraft and ground stations, as well as reliable technical standards for spacecraft navigation and flight control.
Since 1982, experts from ESA, NASA and other major space organisations and industry have met periodically to develop new, open data communication standards. Developing standards for space hardware and data interchange for space agencies, also promises to pay off even in the short term. In the future, inter-satellite communication requirements are predicted to grow, and spacecraft should be capable of establishing powerful radio links with each other.