Lunar 4G network to be established in ambitious industry-led project
Image credit: Vodafone
PTScientists, a German-based group of volunteer scientists and engineers, is teaming up with industry partners to establish a 4G network based on the moon. It has named this project “Mission to the Moon”.
The group is working with Vodafone, Audi and Nokia on the project, rendering it the first privately funded lunar mission.
Vodafone and PTScientists (the ‘PT’ stands for part-time) will connect two Audi lunar Quattro rovers to a base station in the landing module. They will use a small piece of hardware developed by its technology partner, Nokia, in order to establish the network. Nokia will develop a space-worthy variant of its Ultra Compact Network, which will weigh barely 1kg.
The launch is scheduled for 2019. The hardware will be launched from Cape Canaveral using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket system, which is partially reusable.
Once the network has been established, the group intends to stream high-definition video from the Moon to Earth. This will allow for the first live HD video feed of the Moon’s surface; this will be available to a global audience via a deep space link that connects to the PTScientists’ server in Berlin.
PTScientists also hope to investigate Nasa’s Apollo 17 lunar rover, which was left behind after being used to explore the lunar surface and collect material during the last manned moon mission in 1972.
“This is a crucial first step for sustainable exploration of the solar system,” said Robert Böhme, CEO and founder of PTScientists. “In order for humanity to leave the cradle of Earth, we need to develop infrastructures beyond our home planet. With Mission to the Moon we will establish and test the first elements of a dedicated communications network on the Moon.”
“The great thing about this LTE solution is that it saves so much power and the less energy we use sending data, the more we have to do science!”
Marcus Weldon, CTO of Nokia said: “This important mission is supporting, among other things, the development of new space-grade technologies for future data networking, processing and storage and will help advance the communications infrastructure required for academics, industry and educational institutions in conducting lunar research.”
“These aims have potentially wide-ranging implications for many stakeholders and humanity as a whole.”
According to Reuters, the decision to establish a 4G network on the Moon rather than a cutting-edge 5G network – which is expected to become the new standard over the next decade – was made on the grounds that 5G currently remains in the trial stage. Such a network is unlikely to provide enough stability to work from the surface of the Moon. The first commercial non-test 5G network was demonstrated at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.