Over the past several decades, technology has taken a sharp turn and expanded in leaps and bounds, sometimes improving in ways not thought possible. Where early computers took up entire warehouses, almost everyone now holds tiny supercomputers in their back pockets. Now, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is partnering with Nokia Bell Labs to establish a full 4G/ LTE network on the moon by the end of 2022 in a $14.1 million deal.
The ultra-compact network system will be strong enough to endure the harsh conditions of space while being efficient enough to use minimal power. Though in space, the network will largely be used for similar reasons as it is on Earth. It will provide faster, clearer communication for the astronauts in a variety of ways, including data transmission, command-and-control functions, remote control of lunar vehicles, navigation assistance, and high-definition video sharing.
Not only will the astronauts have more accessibility and easier communications with Earth and their technology, but NASA may gain monumental photographs and video footage much faster than it is currently transmitted.
“The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications,” Nokia announced in a press release earlier this month. “These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface.”
Nokia’s interstellar network will be comprised of an LTE base station, LTE user equipment, radio antennas to adjust network frequency, and software for both operation and maintenance of the system. The technology will be delivered to the moon’s surface pre-built and ready to roll as soon as astronauts arrive. The system is much faster and more reliable than any previous space communication set-up.
The $14.1 million deal is part of the Artemis program, an ongoing effort to “establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars,” according to NASA’s website. The plan includes landing American astronauts – one man and one woman – on the moon by 2024. Several commercial Moon deliveries, including that of space instruments and technological tools, will begin in 2021 to prepare for the astronauts’ arrival.
In their press release, Nokia also stated that “as a market leader in end-to-end communication technologies for service provider and enterprise customers globally, Nokia develops and provides mission-critical networks adopted by airports, factories, industrial, first-responders, and the harshest mining operations on Earth, for automation, data collection and reliable communications. By deploying its technologies in the most extreme environments, Nokia Bell Labs will validate the solution’s performance and technology readiness level, and further optimize it for future terrestrial and space applications.”
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