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Posted by on Aug 11, 2012 in Science, Technology |

How data is transmitted Curiosity Mars to Earth?

How data is transmitted Curiosity Mars to Earth?

The technology is so common and so used that it has become completely invisible, ie is there, always around us but we long ago to ask how it works or what it takes to achieve some kind of telecommunications, including when it is a robot on another planet.

Communications between the and the data center of NASA on is a pretty impressive technical achievement that is part of the proof of the thirst for exploration of our society. Thanks to that we can now explore other planets, receive important data in a few days and even delight in photos of landings and spectacular videos.

So how data is transmitted from the Curiosity to Earth? It is, in a word, incredible:

The rover’s direct communication to Earth is possible (yes, it’s awesome) but is inefficient because the antennas are not powerful enough and there are satellites circling Mars that can undertake this work.

There are two satellites that can receive data from Curiosity:

  • , which selects automatically transfer rate and is capable of transmitting data at 2 megabits per second.
  • Mars Odyssey , you can select data rates of 128 kilobits to 256 kilobits per second bit.

(By comparison, the rover can send data to Earth from 500 bits to 32 kilobits per second).

The satellites are capable of receiving between 100 and 250 megabits of information for 8 minutes, the period of time they can maintain stable and continuous connection while passing near Curiosity.

How data is transmitted Curiosity Mars to Earth? image 2

Once you have obtained the data, satellites and send them traveling 58 million miles to Earth. It takes about 14 minutes to arrive and are received by the Deep Space Network and Deep Space Network for NASA that is composed of three radio antennas:

  1. Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the Mojave Desert near Goldstone, USA.
  2. Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex in Canberra, Australia.
  3. Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex in Robledo de Chavela, Madrid, Spain.

Along the trajectory, speed and size of Mars orbit, satellites can see the Earth two-thirds of each orbit, or about 16 hours a day, so you can send much more information than if Curiosity did directly, in addition antennas have the proper equipment to do so.

How data is transmitted Curiosity Mars to Earth? image 3

The speed of transmission between the satellite and the Earth also impressive. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is capable of sending about 6 megabits per second while the Odyssey transmits up to 12 kilobits per second. Why the difference in speed? was sent to Mars in 2001 and the Mars Reconnaissance in 2005 with more and better technology for data transmission.

Thus, in brief summary, we receive data from a small robot that is 58 million miles from Earth.

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