MoonLite, Moon Bright: NASA To Build Wireless Phone Network On The Moon - InformationWeek

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2/20/2008
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Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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MoonLite, Moon Bright: NASA To Build Wireless Phone Network On The Moon

Yes, you read that correctly. NASA and the British National Space Centre are working together to develop a mobile phone system for the colony that will eventually inhabit the moon. Say what?!?

Yes, you read that correctly. NASA and the British National Space Centre are working together to develop a mobile phone system for the colony that will eventually inhabit the moon. Say what?!?You did know about the plans to colonize the moon, right? It's been on the road map to space for some time now. Of course, the colony will be made up of scientists performing all sorts of low gravity experiments, such as seeing who can putt a golf ball the furthest. Since radio waves are the easiest way to communicate in the vacuum, all those golfers will be using radio systems to say useful things like: "Ha, beat that one, George!"

OK, kidding aside. NASA is looking to build a colony at the south pole of the moon sometime after 2020. Using a system of satellites, NASA and BNSC plan to bounce radio signals around the orb to transmit voice and text messages between colonists and robots. (I am really not making this up.) The system is to be called MoonLite, and could pass information all around the moon as well as back to earth.

The system, says David Parker, director of space science at the BNSC, will resemble the "satellite phone network of the 1980s and 1990s on Earth. The robots and astronauts would be spread out from the base to do exploration and some sorts of comms infrastructure would be needed. MoonLite is taking the first step toward that network."

Not only will the system be able to direct voice calls, but data as well. If you think the colonists of 2020 are going to get 3G, forget it. The data throughput will be a lowly 3 Kbps for the downlink and up to 2 Kbps for the uplink. That's miserable. Let's hope speediness of data communications isn't essential on the moon. By way of comparison, GPRS can transit data at about 80 Kbps under optimal circumstances and EDGE can receive info at 200 Kbps. HSPA transits data at speeds up to 14.4 megabits per second.

Of course, none of this has been approved by Congress. What do you think? Is it a valuable way to spend taxpayer dollars?

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