Nokia to build a 4G network on the moon

midian182

Posts: 6,184   +51
Staff member
WTF?! The majority of today's mobile network news is related to the ongoing expansion of 5G, so why should we care about a new 4G network? Because this one's located on the moon, that's why.

The unlikely-sounding scenario is part of NASA's Artemis' program, which aims to put the next man and first woman on the lunar surface in 2024. The eventual plan is to build sustainable elements on and around the moon, including a lunar space station known as the Gateway, for long-term discovery, exploration, and commercial use.

By 2028, the agency hopes to have a lunar base that can sustain a human presence, which will require, among many other things, a 4G network that allows better and more stable long-distance voice, video, and data transmissions than current methods on the moon. The network will also be used for real-time navigation purposes, streaming biometric data, controlling lunar rovers remotely, and high-definition video streaming.

The project is being created by Nokia—one of several companies contracted by NASA to work on the Artemis Program at the cost of $370 million—working alongside spaceflight engineering firm Intuitive Machines. The Finnish giant says the network will be "ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE," helping it survive the journey from Earth to the lunar surface.

All the LTE equipment, which has been specially designed to withstand the harsh launch and landing along with the extreme condition of space (radiation, vacuum, etc.), will be integrated into the lunar lander and self-configure upon deployment. The aim is for the mobile network to be built and deployed by late 2022, and much like here on Earth, it will eventually be upgraded to 5G.

We recently saw the US and eight other nations sign the Artemis program's principles, the Artemis Accords, which should help avoid confrontations between countries while exploring the moon and deep space.

Image credit: Pavel Chagochkin

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VitalyT

Posts: 5,197   +4,318
TechSpot Elite
Too bad you won't be able to make a proper conversation over mobile, due to 2.7s radio delay. Also, the Internet will be very slow, for the same reason.

Need a tachyon mobile network perhaps :)

Also, I do not get it why for a project of such importance they wouldn't install 5G from start.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,746   +3,640
Too bad you won't be able to make a proper conversation over mobile, due to 2.7s radio delay. Also, the Internet will be very slow, for the same reason.

Need a tachyon mobile network perhaps :)

Also, I do not get it why for a project of such importance they wouldn't install 5G from start.

You bring up a good point. The delay of 2.5 seconds isn't terrible tho.

Is it possible maybe to tune buffers and AI to change the output of the audio to make it appear that the conversation has a lower delay?
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,692   +963
Too bad you won't be able to make a proper conversation over mobile, due to 2.7s radio delay. Also, the Internet will be very slow, for the same reason.

Need a tachyon mobile network perhaps :)
This is a 4G network on the moon, not a 4G network to the moon. They're trying to network all the future bases and rovers together

Also, I do not get it why for a project of such importance they wouldn't install 5G from start.
Because 5G is not a well understood technology, not at scale at least, and NASA is allergic to risk of any kind. 5G will experience growing pains, just like 4G did, as it gets rolled out. NASA will want those taken care of, or have strategies to minimize the unavoidable bits, before they begin a 5G rollout on the moon. They will want to be sure that any problems they run into are related solely to the environment on the moon, and not because they found a new quirk with the technology.

Interestingly, without an atmosphere to attenuate the signal, you may be able to get more range and a stronger signal on low-radiation days - be it 5G or 4G. I can see 5G potentially reaching to the horizon on the Moon, depending on background radiation levels and frequencies.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,597   +6,114
Well, it will be cheaper to build, especially with all those left over & abandoned 4G parts that will be showing up at the dump ..... Hey! A high-tech dumpster diver .... that's got possibilities .....
 
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franticfrosty

Posts: 79   +84
From my understanding, at current, 5G networks have 0.2%-2% the range of 4G networks. For communication purposes I cant see anything beyond 4G being needed considering it'll probably be 10-40mbps speeds they'd be getting which is perfect unless they're transmitting Tb worth of data.
 

Mugsy

Posts: 679   +122
This is going to be a buggy mess.

"WAN"-style radio communications is arguably not possible without an atmosphere and magnetic field. For two distant points to communicate, the signal would have to be bounced off an orbiting satellite first because it won't bend around the curvature of the moon (You *could* build a series of "cell towers" on the moon. Good luck with that that.)
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +901
The delay of 2.5 seconds isn't terrible tho. Is it possible maybe to tune buffers and AI to change the output of the audio to make it appear that the conversation has a lower delay?
Not without repealing at least one law of physics. But at least it's not a quantum law.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,692   +963
This is going to be a buggy mess.

"WAN"-style radio communications is arguably not possible without an atmosphere and magnetic field. For two distant points to communicate, the signal would have to be bounced off an orbiting satellite first because it won't bend around the curvature of the moon (You *could* build a series of "cell towers" on the moon. Good luck with that that.)
That is not true at all - but you are somewhat on the right track.

Radio can travel just fine in a vacuum and without an ambient EM field to 'carry it' (as you seem to imply). But you are correct that it will be limited to line-of-site without an atmosphere to reflect and deflect the signal. So satellites and relay towers likely will be necessary. But that is a 'later' problem, where there are multiple moon bases, or unmanned missions being controlled from a distance. For the area immediately around a moon base, 4G will work just fine.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +901
That is not true at all - but you are somewhat on the right track.

Radio can travel just fine in a vacuum and without an ambient EM field to 'carry it' (as you seem to imply). But you are correct that it will be limited to line-of-site without an atmosphere to reflect and deflect the signal. So satellites and relay towers likely will be necessary. But that is a 'later' problem, where there are multiple moon bases, or unmanned missions being controlled from a distance. For the area immediately around a moon base, 4G will work just fine.
All very true. I'd like to add a couple interesting twists to the above. Since the moon's LOS horizon is much close than the earth's, a radio tower of the same height would only have about 1/4 the range. But due to the moon's lower gravity and lack of weather, building much taller towers is significantly easier.
 

Markoni35

Posts: 819   +302
Extraterrestrials are thrilled. They always wanted to play with the ancient 4G technology that their grand-grand-grand-grand-grand parents used to talk about nostalgically.