Nov 21, 2008
With more nations sending up more spacecraft conducting more advanced scientific studies, how will the world's space agencies keep everyone and everything in the loop? NASA has devised a system, touted as a sort of deep-space Internet protocol, to form the backbone of interplanetary communication: Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN. The space agency announced this week that its DTN network, which would allow the automated relay of information to and from far-flung spacecraft or landers via intermediate points, had passed its first test, relaying info millions of miles into space.
"Right now most of our missions are 'point-to-point,' i.e., one ground system talks to a single spacecraft over a single space radio link," says Adrian Hooke, manager of space networking architecture, technology and standards for NASA. Communication with Mars landers or rovers, in contrast, is a "two-hop" system, he says—one link from the ground to an orbiter around the Red Planet and another link from the orbiter to the Martian surface. "Typically those two space links are rarely both up together, so we have the orbiter 'hold' data until the next hop becomes available."
Nov 17, 2008
Like many an unsung artist or writer, the late Mars Phoenix Lander's fame has increased since the robot expired last week — thanks to social-networking tools that gave it a human voice.
The Phoenix amassed nearly 40,000 friends on Twitter and almost 4,000 fans on Facebook courtesy of a NASA spokeswoman who sent cheeky transmissions from the robot as it slowly froze to death on the Red Planet, the Arizona Daily Star reports today. "Not everyone gets the chance to read their own epitaph(s). So many great entries, I feel so loved :-)," the Phoenix "told" Twitter users on Nov. 5, five days before NASA declared it caput (but three days after it stopped communicating with the agency).
Nov 11, 2008 | 2
So long, Mars Lander.
The NASA robot’s $475-million mission is over, after increasingly cold weather and diminishing sun on Mars got the better of the lander, which relied on sunlight to recharge its solar battery, scientists said yesterday. It hasn’t contacted Earth since November 2.
"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to operations at this point," Barry Goldstein, Phoenix mission project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told reporters yesterday. "We'll constantly turn on the radio and try to hail Phoenix and see if it's alive, but at this point nobody on the team has any expectations of that happening."
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