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Re: Space and Beyond Thread
« Reply #60 on: July 29, 2014, 08:49:45 am »
Texting Gains Deep Space Traction

Quote
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Jul 29, 2014
Mark Carreau


HOUSTON — A small, multinational team of astronauts is finding that texting rather than speaking by voice may be the most efficient means of overcoming time delays when communicating with Earth from a deep-space destination.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station, who circle the Earth at an altitude of 260 mi., seldom experience a  problem even though their voices are routed through a satellite network to ground controllers.

But at distances well beyond — potential future human destinations like asteroids and Mars — the time between the initiation of a message and a response could average 20 min.

NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Jeanette Epps, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, who is commanding the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 18 exercise, addressed the challenge during a nine-day undersea deep-space analog mission that is scheduled to end July 29.

Working with ground controllers, the foursome inserted artificial, 5-min. delays in their communications while conducting spacewalks outside the Florida International University-maintained Aquarius undersea habitat off Key Largo, Florida. On one day, they worked by voice. During a second trial they communicated with text messages, which proved far more satisfactory, according to Vande Hei.

“I’m a person who doesn’t like to text that much,” he noted in a July 28 phone interview from Aquarius. “Voice is a much higher quality of communications.”

However, when it comes to surface explorations of the kind that future astronauts would carry out on a distant asteroid or on Mars, texting proved the mode of choice.

“You can’t afford the time standing there holding this rock for 10 minutes,” Vande Hei said.

Texting, the underwater spacewalkers found, allowed them to move quickly between four rock sample sites arranged in a broad circle on the sea floor. The astronauts stopped at each site to express their observations to colleagues in Aquarius, who then texted a summary to topside controllers.

By the time the Aquarius spacewalkers had conveyed their impressions of the fourth site, a response from their control team with instructions on how to proceed at the first sample site had arrived. There was no standing around.
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