5G technologies for a communications and navigation integrated infrastructure on moon and mars

5G technologies for a communications and navigation integrated infrastructure on moon and mars

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In the past years, ESA set forth the idea of a “Moon Village”, a village on the moon built by huge 3D printers and inhabited for months at a time by teams of astronauts. The plan outlined by the ESA is that, starting from the early 2020s, robots will be sent to the Moon to begin constructing various facilities, followed a few years later by the first inhabitants. Back in 2013, ESA teamed up with building companies to start testing out various Moon base-building technologies, and determined that local materials would be the best for constructing buildings and other structures, which means no need for transporting resources from earth at an astronomical cost. But the problems to be solved for the realization of such stable manned infrastructure on the Moon (a true follow-on of the International Space Station) involve much more than just building technologies. The Moon Village will be a large and complex system where requirements related to operations and safety of life will be of paramount importance. Moreover, from an architectural viewpoint the “village” will have to be expandable and “open” to the integration with other systems, hence integrability and expandability will be two key issues. But first and above all, the Moon Village will have to be affordable and sustainable, i.e., its cost will need to be assessed over its life-cycle. As a “Wild West” town in the old times, “Moon Village” will have to provide a number of essential infrastructures. In particular, the exploration of the Moon with human and robotic missions and its colonization, through the establishment of permanent bases, will require planetary communications and navigation infrastructures. The approach described in this paper was first presented in 2016 [1] and relies on the use of Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component for communication and navigation on the Moon surface. The use of LTE technology, currently deployed on Earth, and the coming 5G technology will allow communication and navigation, within the maximum throughput and the accuracy provided by the standard, assuming the implementation of all the basic pre-requisites on the Moon. More recently (March 2018), Vodafone and its technology partners Nokia, PTScientists, Audi and SpaceX announced their plan to set up the first cellular network node on the Moon. Because 5G is still in its very early stages, Vodafone has decided to go for the time being with 4G technology, using spectrum in the 1.8 GHz band. The Vodafone team intends to set up a base station near the Lunar Rover left in the Taurus-Littrow valley during the Apollo 17 mission and send to Earth live HD videos from the Moon's surface. The 4G network on the moon will connect two Audi Lunar Quattro rovers to a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA). This mission, planned for not earlier than 2019, would be the first private mission to the Moon. Esa's vision is much more ambitious, aiming at the creation of a permanent inhabited base on the Moon, with all the infrastructures needed to support life and operations.

Inspec keywords: lunar surface; 5G mobile communication; cellular radio; 4G mobile communication; radionavigation; Long Term Evolution

Other keywords: International Space Station; planetary communications; Audi Lunar Quattro rovers; Lunar rover; 5G communication; cellular network; Moon village; astronomical costing; LTE technology; navigation infrastructures; SpaceX; Moon base-building technologies; ESA; PTScientists; 4G network; 3D printers; Moon surface; frequency 1.8 GHz; Apollo 17 mission; commercial off-the-shelf component; COTS component; Taurus-Littrow valley; Nokia; Vodafone; autonomous landing and navigation module; ALINA

Subjects: Radionavigation and direction finding; Mobile radio systems

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