Where no radio has gone before: Cognitive radios can keep deep-space missions connected to earth even when faced with Alien environments

Sven Bilen, Dale Mortensen, Richard Reinhart, Alexander Wyglinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Space seems empty and therefore the perfect environment for radio communications. Don't let that fool you: There's still plenty that can disrupt radio communications. Earth's fluctuating ionosphere can impair a link between a satellite and a ground station. The materials of the antenna can be distorted as it heats and cools. And the near-vacuum of space is filled with low-level ambient radio emanations, known as cosmic noise, which come from distant quasars, the sun, and the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This noise also includes the cosmic microwave background radiation, a ghost of the big bang. Although faint, these cosmic sources can overwhelm a wireless signal over interplanetary distances. · Depending on a spacecraft's mission, or even the particular phase of the mission, different link qualities may be desirable, such as maximizing data throughput, minimizing power usage, or ensuring that certain critical data gets through. To maintain connectivity, the communications system constantly needs to tailor its operations to the surrounding environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9150556
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Spectrum
Volume57
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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