Is This The best way to set up the internet on Mars?

,- In a few decades, maybe, when astronauts finally set foot on Mars, communication will be one of the most important things they have to handle. Staying in touch with mission control back on Earth, equipment on and around the planet, and each other will be critical. Even though they are so far from home, these astronauts would surely want to be able to stay in touch with loved ones, update their playlists, or watch the newest episodes of their favourite shows.

Setting up a standard Wi-Fi connection to the internet on Earth, though, won't be possible. At between 55 million to 400 million km, depending on the planets' orbital orientations, Earth is just too far away. Astronauts will so require other tactics.

Human trips to Mars require a strong communications infrastructure, according to Claire Parfitt, a systems engineer at the European Space Agency (ESA) with headquarters in Noordwijk, Netherlands. To address this problem, work is already being done to investigate several possibilities and modernise current networks.

Innovating approaches to improve communication are being tested by researchers, including broad substitutes. For example, the October launch of NASA's Psyche mission seeks to investigate an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter while evaluating laser-based interplanetary communication. Lasers can carry far more data than conventional radio waves.

No method now in use can completely remove the temporal gap in communications between Earth and Mars, notwithstanding advances. Since messages moving at light speed take four to twenty-four minutes to travel one way, instantaneous communication like a quick ping or a WhatsApp call is not possible.
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To further complicate communication operations, every two years there are obstacles like solar conjunction, when the sun blocks direct connection between Earth and Mars for a few weeks.

Novel methods are being investigated to overcome these obstacles and improve communication on Mars to resemble terrestrial experiences. Even the idea of creating Mars' own internet infrastructure has been put up by some researchers.

Several space agencies now run satellites, rovers, and landers on Mars; all of them need to be in contact with Earth. For instance, the Perseverance rover of NASA routinely transmits and receives science data as well as command and telemetry. Many times, this data transfer entails sending data via the Mars Relay Network, an orbiter network surrounding Mars that enables contact with Earth.

Stronger communication systems will be needed for next human Mars expeditions. A combination of orbital relays and ground-based antennas is how MIT researcher Vincent Chan, who specialises in fiber-optic and satellite communications, sees communication between Mars and Earth. For big data transport, such infrastructure would need to be optimised and monitored around-the-clock.

ESA is looking at projects such as the Mars Communication and Navigation Infrastructure (MARCONI) to improve communication capabilities on Mars. The purpose of this project is to create navigation and communication payloads for use on next Mars missions, thereby establishing a long-lasting communication network.

Furthermore, compared to conventional radio frequencies, developments in optical communication, such laser links, provide the possibility of far faster data transfer rates. Expanding the frontiers of interplanetary communication technology, NASA's Psyche probe is now trying long-distance laser communications.

Despite the benefits, optical communication calls for exact aim and can need upgrading the current infrastructure. All the same, these advances show a great deal of progress in getting ready for next human trips to Mars.

Looking ahead, there are many more fascinating opportunities for future Martian explorers and residents to create a Mars-based internet network similar to Earth's. Such a network might greatly improve the Mars experience by offering smooth connection for anything from scientific research to entertainment.

Proactive planning and investment in communication infrastructure are crucial first steps towards permitting future Mars missions, even though obstacles still exist. Overcoming these obstacles advances humanity towards the realisation of the goal of visiting and living on the Red Planet.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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