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 venture 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 Cell World Congress Barcelona, will have the ability to seize high-definition photos and movies through an LTE hyperlink in 1.8 GHz spectrum, defined Luis Maestro, the principal investigator for the venture inside Nokia Bell Labs. That data will undergo processing on-site after which be despatched again to earth.

Nokia has mentioned that a part of its aim is to set up the viability of mobile tech for future house exploration by adapting business tech to do the job. Nokia acquired NASA funding via its Tipping Level venture aimed toward sustainable improvement of tech for house missions, together with manned missions.

“For the way forward for house exploration, communications is a important functionality,” mentioned 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 how one can construct them and function them.”

Nokia Bell Labs is working with two house start-ups on the venture. 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 (Cell 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 vital 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 extraordinary vibration of launch and the acute temperatures of house, from its facets as a frigid vacuum to the blistering warmth and radiation of direct daylight. Particular radiating components need to be built-in that dissipate warmth as a result of the mechanisms for warmth dissipation that sometimes work on Earth usually 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 will be maintained. The rover must be cautious of the terrain—together with shadows solid by giant rocks, which might block its photo voltaic panels and kill its energy provide—so a navigational route must be painstakingly deliberate, and that may probably 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 come back late this yr, Maestro mentioned.

What are a number of the classes {that a} lunar community might deliver 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 in the end imply for each, say, catastrophe restoration mobile deployables or cell websites normally.

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