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Nokia Bell Lab’s mobile moon shot

A moon rover + base station will launch later this yr

Amid rising curiosity in what non-terrestrial networks would possibly imply for communications on Earth, Nokia Bell Labs is taking space-based networks a step additional, and collaborating on a NASA challenge to place LTE on the moon in assist of a lunar rover.

The concept is to discover the moon’s southern pole with a rover that may connect with an LTE base station constructed right into a lunar lander about 4 meters tall. The rover, featured in Nokia’s sales space at Cellular World Congress Barcelona, will be capable to seize high-definition footage and movies through an LTE hyperlink in 1.8 GHz spectrum, defined Luis Maestro, the principal investigator for the challenge inside Nokia Bell Labs. That data will undergo processing on-site after which be despatched again to earth.

Nokia has stated that a part of its purpose is to set up the viability of mobile tech for future house exploration by adapting industrial tech to do the job. Nokia obtained NASA funding by means of its Tipping Level challenge aimed toward sustainable growth of tech for house missions, together with manned missions.

“For the way forward for house exploration, communications is a important functionality,” stated Maestro at MWC23. “As an alternative of constructing proprietary options or reinventing the wheel, why not leverage applied sciences that we all know from Earth … are good, that they’re strong, they’re dependable? We all know methods to construct them and function them.”

Nokia Bell Labs is working with two house start-ups on the challenge. Its ultra-company base station is mounted on the Nova-C lander from aerospace firm Intuitive Machines, coupled with MIMO antennas on Lunar Outpost’s MAPP (Cellular Autonomous Prospecting Platform) rover.

The engineering challenges of placing a mobile community into house are daunting, Maestro explains, and the the mobile tools needed to endure important design modifications with a purpose to survive house and ship protection. Tools must be constructed to reduce its dimension, weight and energy consumption, whereas having the ability to survive the extreme vibration of launch and the intense temperatures of house, from its elements as a frigid vacuum to the blistering warmth and radiation of direct daylight. Particular radiating parts need to be built-in that dissipate warmth as a result of the mechanisms for warmth dissipation that sometimes work on Earth typically depend on air circulation, which doesn’t occur in house. As a result of the moon is a lot smaller than the earth, its curvature turns into a limiting issue within the vary over which the LTE hyperlink may be maintained. The rover must be cautious of the terrain—together with shadows solid by massive rocks, which may block its photo voltaic panels and kill its energy provide—so a navigational route must be painstakingly deliberate, and that may doubtlessly take the rover out of the road of the strongest RF protection.

Launch of the lunar lander base station and the rover are anticipated to return late this yr, Maestro stated.

What are a number of the classes {that a} lunar community may convey again to earth? New approaches to cooling and ultra-reliability in harsh environments, Maestro says, in addition to new strategies for working below very limited-power situations. As well as, he factors out, the community has to have the ability to be deploy itself autonomously, with zero bodily human intervention—which provides an intriguing side of what the R&D would possibly finally imply for each, say, catastrophe restoration mobile deployables or cell websites usually.

For extra data, try Nokia Bell Labs’ weblog posts in regards to the challenge right here and right here.



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