NASA developed LunaNet, an ‘internet’ network for the Moon and Artemis missions. Artemis is NASA’s program to establish a long-term human presence on the Moon. The international lunar program is the US tip-of-the-sword in the new space race, but Artemis II has been delayed due to a lawsuit over a lunar landing module awarded to SpaceX by NASA and questioned by Blue Origin.
Artemis I will launch in November and send an unmanned Orion spacecraft to our natural satellite. The following Artemis missions land the first woman and first color person on the surface of the Moon. Artemis Base Camp at the Moon’s South Pole is also considered a springboard to Mars and beyond. With all these moving parts, a reliable communications network would surely make things easier.
NASA created LunaNet to stop disruptions and delays in communications and data transmission in space. Missions in space today depend on predetermined connections with space satellites or terrestrial antennas, making communication and data transfer limited. LunaNet is designed to provide sustainable communication, navigation, weather monitoring and will also be used for scientific purposes.
Like the Internet, LunaNet allows users to stay connected to a larger network of nodes but in space. LunaNet is a Delay-Disruption Tolerant Network DTN that uses multiple nodes on the Moon, on satellites and earth stations, ultimately creating a robust network. Each node can store and redirect data to find the best optimal path to reach destinations. Astronauts and rovers on the moon do not have to wait for information to be processed and transmitted from Earth stations.
Academics, ground control, spacecraft, astronauts and other users will have access to the network wherever they are. On the moon, using LunaNet navigation, rovers and astronauts will be able to know their location, chart routes, activate autonomous travel, and set fast returns to base. Astronauts also get real-time weather information in space. In case of dangerous solar storm activity, astronauts will receive a warning to seek shelter. LunaNet will also contribute to search and rescue programs, scientific experiments and astronomical observations using radio astronomy. NASA will use LunaNet to study advanced space communications for future missions. “LunaNet is the first step in creating a solar internet system“NASA says.
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