Plans To Bring ‘GPS’ And Skype To The Moon By Satellite Unveiled
The world wide web could soon need a new name, as plans have been revealed to build a satellite network to bring telecommunications, and even eventually the internet, to the moon.
In a press conference on Thursday, May 20, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced they were developing a constellation of satellites to provide GPS navigation and communications for future lunar explorers, with the system potentially set to be in place within the next 10 years.
Several nations, as well as private space companies, are planning to reach the moon in the coming decades; the ESA say building a satellite infrastructure will be a vital step in creating a viable ‘lunar economy’ on what the agency has called the ‘eighth continent’.
Speaking at the conference, Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at the ESA, said:
Having a navigation and telecommunication network to relay what we learn on the moon back to Earth will be key for sustainability of future missions.
You can imagine astronomers setting up observatories on the far side of the moon. And as we have all now become accustomed to virtual meetings, who knows? We could be doing Skype on the moon.
The project, named Moonlight, is currently undergoing feasibility studies, with David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at the agency, saying that pending approval from ESA member states it could get underway as early as 2023, and potentially begin operations ‘within four or five years,’ Space.com reports.
The system would be particularly useful for improving positioning data, which is currently only accurate on the moon between 0.3-3 miles. By comparison, GPS data in the US is accurate to within 1-5 metres.
NASA is currently hoping to return humans to the moon through its Artemis program by 2024. Next year will mark a half century since the last crewed mission to the lunar surface.
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