Satellite Communication With Mars Term Paper

Pages: 18 (6133 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Astronomy

Satellite Communication With Mars

Satellite Communication

The use of Satellites Communication satellites for data and information transfer are now becoming common for both national as well, as international usage. As one pundit notes," Our world is becoming one of ever closer contact with our neighbors, and the most advanced system for relaying instantaneous messages is the communication satellite" (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 135). The International communications satellites that have been launched since 1965 have shown the effectiveness of the satellite system.

However, the use of satellites for communication and data transfer also extend beyond the parameters of the earth. This paper will examine various aspect of satellite communication with Mars.

The following discussion will therefore deal with the various architectures, protocols and methods of data transference that are necessary in order to facilitate satellite communication between Earth and Mars. This discussion will also deal worth the envisaged IPN or Interplanetary network and the data and relay requirements that are needed to deal with the demands and problematics of satellite communication and data sharing between planets.

Brief Overview and background

In essence a communication satellite is essentially a relay station that can be used to provide for the transfer of data and information. Put rather simplistically, "A communications satellite is a radio relay station in orbit above the earth that receives, amplifies, and redirects analog and digital signals carried on a specific radio frequency" (Satellite Basics: Guide To Satellite-based Solutions).

One could also describe a satellite as a specialized wireless receiver or transmitter, as it receives radio waves from one location to another via a 'bent pipe" that is launched by a rocket and placed in orbit around the earth (SATELLITES). It is also important to note that they have many other uses besides communication. These include wide-area network communications, weather forecasting, television broadcasting, amateur radio communications, Internet access and the Global Positioning System (SATELLITES). Furthermore, scientific studies of our planet, the atmosphere and the universe all rely on satellites.

Most satellites are situated in a circular orbit about 35,800 kilometers above the surface of the earth (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 135). At its most fundamental, satellite communications have two main components. The first is the satellite itself, also known as the space segment. This is comprised of three distinct units; namely, the fuel system, the satellite and telemetry controls, and the transponder. The transponder includes the following elements: "… the receiving antenna to pick-up signals from the ground station, a broad band receiver, an input multiplexer, and a frequency converter which is used to reroute the received signals through a high powered amplifier for downlink" (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 135).

The second aspect of conventional satellite communication is the Ground Station or the earth segment. This Ground Station has a double function which is to act as an uplink to transmit data. This is usually in the form of baseband signals which are passed through a baseband processor, via an amplifier and through a parabolic dish antenna up to the orbiting satellite (Satellite Communication). However, as will be discussed in the following sections, this situation becomes much more complex and convoluted when communicating via satellite with Mars.

There are also other fundamental aspects so satellite communication that could be noted and that have reference to the topic of This paper. For instance, an important characteristic of satellite systems is that they can be implemented so as provide two basic types of circuits: permanently assigned and demand assigned (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 138). This is a factor that is relevant when it comes to the architecture of communication with satellites in deep space. Briefly, permanently assigned circuits provide "…fixed connections through a satellite from transit center to transit center via earth stations" (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 138). This is similar to the mode of transfer in cable and microwave circuits. Demand assigned circuits on the other hand, "…may also be established between two earth stations, with the component circuit sections being connected together automatically for the duration of the call" (Cassata & Asante, 1979, p. 138). These circuits are more flexible in terms of data routing.

In terms of the present study the advances in satellite and communications technology has meant that it has now become possible to launch and communicate with artificial satellites in orbits round the other planets. This refers especially to satellite communication with Mars. However, the situation with regard to space communication at this level of complexity presents a number of different criteria that have to be considered in terms of communication. This is due to factors such as distance and line of sight - which is the fact that obstacles to a signal transmission and its reception can prevent communication.

Another fact that needs to be considered in terms of space communication is weight - which refers to the fast that the high-powered sensors and antenna needed in space are often too heavy for practical purposes and transportation.

Protocols and architecture: overview

Conventional satellite architecture involves data transmission via a signal path known as a transponder. Usually satellites have between 24 and 72 transponders. A single transponder is capable of handling up to 155 million bits of information per second (Satellite Basics: Guide To Satellite-based Solutions). This transfer of information is facilitated within radio frequency bands. The frequency bands most used by satellite communications companies are called C-band and the higher Ku-band.

The architecture of satellite usage and transmission in terms of communicating in space and between Earth and other planets is based on the principle of providing reusable and sharable physical infrastructures which are intended to accommodate the communication needs of various space missions. The necessary architecture is furthermore intended to link network assets in terms three zones; namely earth, orbiting and deep space (Tahboub and Khan).

An important aspect of the theory of this architecture is that,

Space protocol architectures will transparently provide end-to-end communication services to space networks. These architectures also describe the design of the protocol suite applied by all assets such as satellites, rovers, and scientific equipments deployed in the space network. (Tahboub and Khan)

Furthermore, this architecture should be interoperable with standard terrestrial communication protocols, enabling both secured and real-time Internet-based access to on-going space missions.

In the light of this outline and considering satellite communication with Mars, there are a number of challenges that have to be considered with regard to the architecture. These include aspects such as long propagation delays, network mobility, link intermittency, limited resource allocation, extreme reliability and security (Tahboub and Khan). As a consequence, major space agencies and research labs have undergone design exploration for a new generation of space protocol architectures to address these design challenges.

The results of this exploration include the IPN or interplanetary networks that will be discussed in more detail in the following sections this paper. This will also be dealt with in the section on protocols and satellite communication with Mars.

Therefore, the issue of communication with Mars means that understanding the underlying and required architecture and protocols for information exchange and sharing should in the first instance distinguish between terrestrial and space communication architecture and protocols.

The environment that has be considered in terms of communication in space share a number of common characteristics. These are, "galactic geography, a set of standard features that consists of service constraints and environmental constraints" (Tahboub and Khan). As referred to, this galactic geography is divided into three interrelated zones. These are earth, orbital and deep space (Tahboub and Khan). As Tahboub and Khan state in a paper entitled Recent Developments in Space Communication Architectures, "…these network assets collectively provide a secured broadband network backbone that links scientist and investigators to mission operation centers (MOC)" (Tahboub and Khan). These mission operation centers are also connected with networks that are comprised of gateways to various space network assets.

Secondly, the orbiting zone is seen as an intermediately region that facilitates access and information transfer to the deep space mission. The orbiting zone network contain various satellites scales, such as LEO, MEO, GEO, micro, and nano satellites, space shuttles, ISS, and lunar orbiters (Tahboub and Khan). Galactic geography into a number of 'zonal-hops'; for example the space backbone refers to the regions between planets and "… consists of a set of relay satellites acting as an interplanetary communication backbone, which aims to interconnect different planetary networks into a global space network" (Tahboub and Khan).

Another important feature of this space communication architecture that will be explored in more detail is the issue of link intermittency. This is related to the dynamic nature of network and satellite communication in space. In many instances links are only active for a limited time period due to the mobility of the communication nodes (Tahboub and Khan). This present a number of problems sand envisaged solutions in terms of space architecture and protocols.

Current and Envisaged Space Communication Architectures

In the light of the above sketch of the architecture that would support Mars satellite… [END OF PREVIEW]

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