Status update: Facebook @ Moon

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4G-LTE network is all set to take a giant leap for mankind as the Moon will get its first-ever high-speed communication network next year. The project is no mean feat, what with majors in the telecom, automobile, and space research industries joining hands for this mammoth… (Featured image is intended for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://pixabay.com/en/network-astronomy-planet-space-3152677/)

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4G-LTE network is all set to take a giant leap for mankind as the Moon will get its first-ever high-speed communication network next year. The project is no mean feat, what with majors in the telecom, automobile, and space research industries joining hands for this mammoth task.

Wondering what’s so special? Well, 4G-LTE consumes less energy while transmitting data. It also aids continuous transmission of information from rovers in a stream, rather than in sporadic photographs. A Moon mission that is set to plant a 4G-LTE network station on its base is poised to power rovers to send a live stream of videos and data regarding Earth’s natural satellite via 4G-LTE, simultaneously benefiting from low power usage.

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Nokia, Vodafone and Germany-based PTScientists have collaborated to introduce 4G-LTE network on the Moon to enhance communication between satellites in space. This project is expected to enable PTScientists to remotely control rovers on the mission and enable them to communicate and transfer data among satellites.

As part of the collaboration, Nokia will provide an ultra-compact network solution that weighs less than a kilogram. Vodafone so far has found that the base station is equipped to broadcast using the 1800 MHz frequency band, enabling a return signal in HD live stream directly from the Moon to PTScientists’ server.

Automobile major Audi has stepped in to provide two lunar Quattro rovers. PTScientists will launch these rovers and enable them to land on the Moon via an Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA). While ALINA is a lunar transport and landing vehicle, it stands apart from the rest of its ilk to become the first ever LTE base station on the Moon. It has been designed to be compatible with major commercial launch vehicles such as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and ISRO’s PSLV.

PTScientists formally pledges to respect the landing site of historical importance where NASA’s Apollo 17 lunar roving vehicle first landed and capture the first high-definition images of the vehicle which was left on the Moon by astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan in 1972. Similarly, Audi rovers are set to explore the landing site.

While this is an exciting journey, patents for extraterrestrial communication network dates back to almost 15 years.

An interesting patent US7418236 filed on April 20, 2004, titled Extraterrestrial communications systems and methods including ancillary extraterrestrial components discusses a space-based network in which two radio terminals (one on Earth and the other on another heavenly body, such as the moon)  enables cellular phone communication wirelessly.

US patent 7418236 describes communications systems and methods on Earth and on an extraterrestrial body.

US patent 7881217 filed by Boeing Company discloses interplanetary communication network that focusses on remote gateway selection during handover procedures. Further, it discloses an energy-aware selection based on optimization function for each node in the deep space communication network, ensuring maximum network stability and efficient energy usage.

A patent application US20170373754 filed by ESPACESYNERGY Boulder CO, describes a method for communicating with a deep spacecraft using space-based communication system. It further discloses a laser and x-ray based point-to-point communication that can raise data volumes from spacecraft to Earth. This becomes extremely important as the space-based missions are sending loads of data back to Earth with significant information about the space.

US and China are leading the race in deep space communication research and innovation. Chinese universities such as Xidian University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shanghai Satellite Engineering Institute, Shanghai Satellite Engineering Institute and China Academy of Space Technology are actively seeking IP protection, with cutting-edge technology innovations raising the bar for extraterrestrial communication.

Wireless communication technology has come a long way, and now is the time when social media and IoT will immerse into the idea of deep space-based communication networks. This will open doors for new avenues for commercial space missions in the years to come.

(Featured image is intended for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://pixabay.com/en/network-astronomy-planet-space-3152677/)

Nikesh Dodwani
Nikesh Dodwani

Nikesh is a strategy analyst with an expertise in technology evolution trends, patent holdings and assessment of IP strengths of patent holders. He works on high-profile technology litigation and licensing programs, helping attorneys and clients find crucial infringement evidence. Nikesh is a co-author of the 4G-LTE U.S. Patent Landscape - 2016 Update iRunway research report.


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