Communications and Navigation

Icarus: An Early Look at Communications

January 11, 2010

The Project Icarus weblog is up and running in the capable hands of Richard Obousy (Baylor University). The notion is to re-examine the classic Project Daedalus final report, the first detailed study of a starship, and consider where these technologies stand today. Icarus is a joint initiative between the Tau Zero Foundation and the British […]

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The Gravitational Lens and Communications

November 6, 2009

If we can get the right kind of equipment to the Sun’s gravitational focus, remarkable astronomical observations should follow. We’ve looked at the possibilities of using this tremendous natural lens to get close-up images of nearby exoplanets and other targets, but in a paper delivered at the International Astronautical Congress in Daejeon, South Korea in […]

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Millisecond Pulsars for Starship Navigation

June 1, 2009

If we can use GPS satellites to find out where we are on Earth, why not turn to the same principle for navigation in space? The idea has a certain currency — I remember running into it in John Mauldin’s mammoth (and hard to find) Prospects for Interstellar Travel (AIAA/Univelt, 1992) some years back. But […]

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An Internet for Deep Space

November 21, 2008

Networking deep space should be a priority for future missions. If we can set up robust networking between spacecraft, we relieve the Deep Space Network of a huge burden, that of having to communicate directly with each spacecraft for tasks that are essentially routine. No more maneuvering huge dishes to catch one fleeting signal, at […]

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‘Smart Dust’ for Planetary Exploration

April 18, 2007

Bringing computer networking to space exploration is a major step forward. It allows us to go beyond the old model of pointing radio dishes at a specific spacecraft and downloading information — a time-consuming process as we move from one spacecraft to another — to communicate instead with a single hub vehicle that could be […]

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Quantum Weirdness and Communications

March 20, 2007

‘Spooky action at a distance’ is still spooky no matter how you explain it. Einstein famously used the phrase to describe quantum entanglement, where two entangled particles appear to interact instantaneously even though separated in space. Now we’re talking about using the effect for communications, following the news that European scientists have proven that entanglement […]

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A Boost for Optical Communications

November 13, 2006

Given how tricky it is to pick up accidental radio signals — “leakage” — from extraterrestrial civilizations, how hard would it be to communicate with our own probes once they’ve reached a system like Alpha Centauri? A front-runner for interstellar communications is the laser. JPL’s James Lesh analyzed the problem in a 1996 paper, concluding […]

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Out into the Celestial Pacific

October 19, 2006

It won’t get us to the stars, but the navigation practiced by ancient Polynesians — sailing by the stars — continues to fascinate a new generation. And since Centauri Dreams often cites the remarkable voyages of these people as they populated the Pacific, it seems appropriate to focus today on an Australian Broadcasting Company story […]

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Optical Communications Success at JAXA

June 10, 2006

As we move up the frequency ladder toward optical communications, each step takes us closer to the kind of data traffic we’ll need for deep space missions into the Kuiper Belt and beyond. The idea is to pack as much information as possible into the signal. A stream of data transmitted from an antenna spreads […]

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Eberhardt Rechtin: Death of a Pioneer

April 24, 2006

Centauri Dreams is saddened to learn of the death of Eberhardt Rechtin, a pioneer of deep space exploration. The list of his accomplishments is long: Rechtin served as CEO of Aerospace Corporation (El Segundo, CA), as chief engineer of Hewlett-Packard, and as director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. But his career is best […]

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