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Mars One Studying How To Maintain Communications With Mars 24/7

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the oh-such-unmitigated-cheek dept.

Communications 143

braindrainbahrain writes "Mars One, the low-credibility effort to colonize Mars, is at least funding some interesting concept studies for their alleged plan to colonize the red planet. One of the most interesting is the effort to maintain uninterrupted communications with Mars. This is not as trivial as it may sound, as any satellite in Martian orbit will still have to deal with occultations between Mars and Earth due to the Sun. Surrey Satellite Technology will be performing the study."

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143 comments

Quantum Telegraph (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924079)

Quantum telegraph. make it happen

Re:Quantum Telegraph (0)

kheldan (1460303) | about 7 months ago | (#45924769)

You mean utilize quantum entanglement? Maybe by the time someone is actually ready to go to Mars, they'll have developed the idea far enough to actually do it. Until then: Lasers.

Re:Quantum Telegraph (3, Informative)

liquidrocket (3439123) | about 7 months ago | (#45925005)

Why would you want to use quantum entanglement for communication with Mars? If you are after faster-than-light communication, quantum entanglement is not going to help you. (and it is extremely unlikely anything else would either)

Re:Quantum Telegraph (3, Funny)

isorox (205688) | about 7 months ago | (#45926079)

You mean utilize quantum entanglement? Maybe by the time someone is actually ready to go to Mars, they'll have developed the idea far enough to actually do it. Until then: Lasers.

Yes, a laser so powerful it will punch a hole through the sun.

classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924111)

the low-credibility effort to colonize Mars

way to maintain journalistic neutrality there.

Re: classy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924179)

No. Just realistic and sober.

Space mission faster and more ambitious than NASA financed by reality TV and application fees?????
Crew selected by casting?????

Seriously? It's a scam. Nothing else.

Not one of these hopeful wannabe astronaut will even step aboard something remotely similar to a rocket.

Re: classy (4, Informative)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#45924249)

Space mission faster and more ambitious than NASA financed by reality TV and application fees?

They did manage to get the Moon landing done is fairly short order - in the 1960s - (obviously not as ambitious as going to / living on Mars) but, sadly, present-day NASA is crippled by the fear of people actually dying, LOTS of bureaucracy, politics (internal and external) and Congress. If the Government (meaning "we the People") *really* wanted to be on Mars, we'd be there.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924349)

If the Government (meaning "we the People") *really* wanted to be on Mars, we'd be there.

Do dey gots American Idol on Mars?

Back in the day... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924417)

The US could build hundreds of thousands of airplanes and hundreds of ships (literally [wikipedia.org] ) in less than 4 years.

Now? The government can't even build a healthcare website that works. Maybe they don't want it to work.

Re:Back in the day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924633)

It works just fine now. Helped my father use it other day. Not a glitch.

Re:Back in the day... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45926369)

Thanks for the sample size of one. Obamy, is that you?

Re: classy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924625)

I just blew a cock kiss at your asshole.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924645)

Comparing a trip to the Moon to a trip to Mars belies your complete cretinism.

Google "distance" and compare that of the Moon to that of Mars.

Chalk and cheese.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924729)

Chalk is delicious.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925025)

Google "delta-V budget" instead:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Delta-Vs_for_inner_Solar_System.svg [wikipedia.org]
OK, so it takes a lot longer. But for a stay on Mars, you'll need to have the long-duration life-support-system working anyway.

Re: classy (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45925053)

If you take that long to get to Mars, you aren't going to need long term life support when you get there.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925811)

look up Project Nerva and the reasons for it's cancellation. Basically, it was deemed too expensive(not the rocket but the trip to mars) and advocates of manned space exploration where having a bad year. If roasting myself in gasoline would get a new nerva project off the ground, I would possible do it.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45926523)

Why? You're not much different from the religious nuts handing out fliers.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925127)

Since we probably spend more on reality TV than we did going to the moon, it might actually get more funding than NASA.

Re: classy (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about 7 months ago | (#45925219)

Crew selected by casting?????

I heard on the radio a person who has been short listed for this. She sounded like one of the hectic/hyper women* who will be talking constantly. If that's indicative of their crew selection then I'm going to start a sweep stake on when the a crew member murders the rest.

* She's probably has big tits and is pretty.

Re: classy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925237)

Space mission faster and more ambitious than NASA financed by reality TV and application fees?????

We'll fund it with Bitcoin and set up a "mine" on Mars to "mine" more Bitcoin to purchase a rocket from Marty Martian for the return voyage.

Re: classy (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 7 months ago | (#45925433)

They do plan to order at least a few feasibility studies from serious companies in the process. And they draw public attention to the whole topic. I think that's good. I would not give them my money, but I don't mind others doing so. And speaking about reality shows, this one (even about the selection process and training) will not be the worst one, so a small win again.

Re: classy (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 7 months ago | (#45925801)

Agree. Though the plan is far-fetched, they are approaching it seriously and have some "credible" people on the team. To me, the most "low-credibility" aspect is their ambitious schedule. For many folks, the sheer audacity of the plan also hurts their credibility. But this may change somewhat in the next few years, as more and more privately funded space projects make headlines.

A few examples:
- both Virgin Galactic and XCOR start service to paying passengers
- SpaceX launches first Falcon Heavy, first man-rated Dragon, and first reusable stage
- MoonEx (or some other team) wins the Google Lunar X-Prize
- Planetary Resources launches its first swarm of asteroid-hunting satellites

As people see more private-sector success stories and costs keep coming down, the Mars-One plan might not seem so far-fetched anymore. It will be interesting to see...

Re: classy (1)

GNious (953874) | about 7 months ago | (#45925945)

We had an on-TV competition back home, to find the first person from our country to "go into space" (non-orbital), ticket paid by the TV show!
Some woman won, and was told she would be the first one ... ...latest news, someone else, completely unrelated to the TV show, is now training to become an astronaut, and will likely be the first one.
(have not been able to find anything about what happended to the TV show contestant).

Re: classy (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 7 months ago | (#45926537)

Sure would be interesting if you had the guts to put your handle out there when making these claims of "Not one of these hopeful wannabe astronaut will even step aboard something remotely similar to a rocket." so come 2023-2024, when the first four colonists land on Mars, we can show you what a doubting Thomas you were back in 2014.. Frankly, I believe Mars-one has a FAR better chance of accomplishing this than any government or consortium of governments.. Anyway, I wish them all the luck in the world and look forward to seeing the telecast of the landing of four humans on Mars in 2024.. I should still be around then, hopefully (74 then)...
Anyway I prefer to think positive, and I think Basdorp and his advisors have an excellent plan to accomplish this...

Re: classy (1)

notanalien_justgreen (2596219) | about 7 months ago | (#45926575)

If you look at his "team [mars-one.com] ", you see half of it is artists and online social media strategists. This company is designed around social media and conning people out of money. Mars is a distraction to them to use to collect gullible people's money.

Trivial (1, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 months ago | (#45924129)

This is not as trivial as it may sound...

Really? from...

the low-credibility effort to colonize Mars...

Yes frome these people, it *is* "trivial".

Seriously, let's not waste money and time with these people when there are serious scientists that are not getting the support they need for serious research.

Re:Trivial (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45924233)

It's so trivial it's already been solved in science fiction.

I bet if they dropped KSR a line he'd tell them specifically who worked it out for him :p

Re:Trivial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925039)

The time for research has ended. The time to put your ass on mars and begin better applied science has begun. (partial sarcasm)

Though, actually, what would you like to see seriously researched more about that planet from lab coats on the ground?

Re:Trivial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45926005)

Though, actually, what would you like to see seriously researched more about that planet from lab coats on the ground?

Biosphere maintenance study, as if your life depends on it....

Re:Trivial (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45925067)

It's not your money. I say let them have their fun.

wow (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 7 months ago | (#45924135)

FTFS

"Mars One , the low-credibility effort to colonize Mars, is at least funding some interesting concept studies for their alleged plan to colonize the red planet /quote Someone seems to not have much faith

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924153)

You want "mod points" for reposting nothing but a direct quote from the summary?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924677)

Honestly most +4 and +5 informative comments aren't much better than the same with window dressing.

Tis the folly of those that prefer to pad their ego with a slashdot account than go the high road and attempt to earn merit without vanity.

It's the SHOES money, its gots to be the shoes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924161)

No Mars....

Just need some relays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924165)

Put some satellites in orbit around the sun. Enough of them and you'll always be able to see at least one of them from either planet, and they can relay between each other. We already have the technology, its called the Internet. Make the satellites routers.

Re:Just need some relays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924209)

Whoa, whoa, whoa there. Problem solving is not permitted. GTFO.

Re:Just need some relays (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 7 months ago | (#45924227)

It would be interesting to test how much lag existing technology can handle, but let's please do it here on Earth before we test it across the solar system.

Re:Just need some relays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924273)

You don't know what lag is, do you? You must be a gamer.

The research has already been done using existing technology. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just need some relays (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924361)

Latency isn't really that difficult to deal with.

The protocol mainly needs to know how much data can be sent for how long (blindly) before expecting ACKs.
Retransmission would require larger buffers (enough for about 20 minutes of data).
If you intend to browse an earth website from Mars, you'd need an earth based gateway to ensure it actually worked.

Of most everyday applications, aside from telephony, banking would be a big challenge. Secure sites time out too quickly for any Martian to hold a connection long enough to log in and perform a transaction.

Over time though, once a colony was established, the vast majority of data would be cached on Mars.

To enable constant communications between earth and Mars though, I suspect a constellation of solar orbiting satellites at the midpoint of Earth and Mars' orbits and a constellation over Mars would be required. This would dramatically increase latency and require some very clever management to keep them aligned, but it would allow a constant link.

Another option is to put satellites in a solar orbit perpendicular to Earth and Mars, but I suspect that would require enormous amounts of energy.

Re:Just need some relays (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925741)

Only two are needed. Minimum. One would work, but there would be times that both it and Mars could be out of reach (solar storms and such).

60 degrees ahead of mars and 60 degrees behind.

The big problem is that they would need to be resupplied with fuel to maintain their position - roughly every 5 years.

Re:Just need some relays (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45924505)

Put some satellites in orbit around the sun. Enough of them and you'll always be able to see at least one of them from either planet, and they can relay between each other.

"enough" being one (or more). One satellite in Earth's L4 or L5 Lagrange points, and you have sight around the sun. If you don't use that natural gravity saddle, you might want to use a gravity hole, such as Jupiter to put another, though to stop Jupiter from getting in the way, you'd still need to use a Lagrange point, I'd recommend L1.

This doesn't seem like a hard problem. You can even launch three, Earth L4 &L5, and Jupiter L1 to have redundant and diverse coverage. Though no idea if they were looking for something in a more stable orbit, as Lagrange points take corrections to remain in. Or if those sorts of details were the point of the study.

Re:Just need some relays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925057)

What you suggest has already been hinted at one their site for quite some time: http://www.mars-one.com/technology/communications-system

I think this study is the beginning of putting that plan into motion by working out all such details. These sats will also help all future rover missions (if there are any) by extending the time you can transmit useful quantities of data back from 1h/day to the entire day.

Re:Just need some relays (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925815)

What's the feasibility of a neutrino beam for communication?
One of those could probably shoot through the sun - eliminating a ton of relays and launches.
It's not entirely [wikipedia.org] science fiction.

Re:Just need some relays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45926261)

This doesn't seem like a hard problem.

If Mars One wants to actually put people on Mars, they will need to solve all non-vital problem such as this with as little money as possible. Every problem becomes hard with limited resources.

Re:Just need some relays (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 7 months ago | (#45926389)

Put some satellites in orbit around the sun. Enough of them and you'll always be able to see at least one of them from either planet, and they can relay between each other.

This doesn't seem like a hard problem. You can even launch three, Earth L4 &L5, and Jupiter L1 to have redundant and diverse coverage. Though no idea if they were looking for something in a more stable orbit, as Lagrange points take corrections to remain in. Or if those sorts of details were the point of the study.

"As of March 2013, Falcon 9 launch prices are $4,109 per kilogram ($1,864/lb) to low-Earth orbit when the launch vehicle is transporting its maximum cargo weight." [wikipedia.org] This is currently one of the cheapest ways to get to LEO. L4 and L5 are a lot farther out and Jupiter...hahahahaha. I doubt a private entity would be able to fund this. As was said somewhere above, the chances of this stunt getting to the point of putting people on the surface of Mars is laughable. It will probably take them a generation just to get to get the prelim research and logistics worked out before even thinking about astronaut training, so anyone "selected" now would probably see their child go instead. If it doesn't just fall flat on its face in the next few years. Time will tell, and it is not in their favor.

Identical twins (3, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 7 months ago | (#45924177)

Send one twin to mars, the other twin stays on Earth. They telepathically communicate. Oh wait, wrong novel?

Re:Identical twins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924519)

If its anything like on TEEVEE then all we'll discover is that both twins wore similar golf shirts... again!

And were totally not asked by the production team to do that.

Re:Identical twins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925151)

Why are you spelling TEEVEE like that? Is it supposed to mean something? Do you write PEECEE too? Did your mommy drop you on your head?

Re:Identical twins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925199)

Send one twin to mars, the other twin stays on Earth. They telepathically communicate. Oh wait, wrong novel?

Can you imagine trying to watch a YouTube video this way?

Ok, my twin on earth has opened the files you requested...
He sees a girl...
He sees another girl...
He sees a cup... ... OH MY GOD...
ur, um I see a 404 error?

I didn't RTFA, but I assume... (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 7 months ago | (#45924189)

...that the NSA is in charge of the communications. National Space Administration?

idiocracy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924195)

Can anyone think of a more credible or likely way to fund a trip to mars? It's not public funding..if putting fucking honey boo boo on Mars it's what gets the effort funded I'm ok with that. How else do you get the citizens of idiocracy to fund the effort?

Re:idiocracy (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 7 months ago | (#45924285)

if putting fucking honey boo boo on Mars it's what gets the effort funded I'm ok with that.

I think most people would have no problem sending them to Mars. It's already a one way trip, so that's a win-win.

Re:idiocracy (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about 7 months ago | (#45926393)

if putting fucking honey boo boo on Mars it's what gets the effort funded I'm ok with that.

I think most people would have no problem sending them to Mars. It's already a one way trip, so that's a win-win.

I think most people would like to see Honey Boo-Boo launched AT the Sun, not put in orbit around it.

Re:idiocracy (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 7 months ago | (#45924393)

Why would you want an utterly idiotic venture to get funding in the first place?

Re:idiocracy (1)

binarstu (720435) | about 7 months ago | (#45924977)

Precisely. If I had mod points, they'd be yours.

idiocranial projection (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#45925011)

It's the opposite of idiocracy. You see, we gave the finger to Darwin a long time ago with our medical science... Mars is a hostile and unforgiving environment. Ship a constant stream of idiots there and only the strong and less stupid survive... Radioactive resistant ones survive longer. Mars One has a chance to rekindle evolution. We'll waste a bunch of life burrowing into the ground, but that's the best place to avoid cosmic rays, and after that it wouldn't even necessarily have to be a death sentence to be born on Mars. Though I'd be pissed at my parents for brining me into such a harsh existence with no way back to Earth, so there's still that.

Additionally, the transmission problem has been around for a while. Even NASA had curiosity go dark for a while, so it's something that does legitimately need to be solved. We could solve it with a relay station in a different orbit. Would be nice to get something like that out of the planetary plane. Then it could beam between any two points on the disk whether planets were along the direct path or not -- At least that's how I did it in my networking simulation of the interplanetary Delay Tolerant Network. Hey, if there's going to people on Mars eventually, I plan to capitalize on it. Why not make sure my programs function in space?

Really though, we need to ditch the wold-wide-web. It's just dumb -- no, really, it has no idea what a file even is. A store and forward network with content hashes instead of URLs (filenames as human-readable nicknames) gives everyone free collocation, and decentralizes data storage, it's also much harder to snoop on because you could be downloading a popular video, picture, etc. from your neighbors who just watched it -- So it's even better on bandwidth. You rename the file 30 different ways and the network only has to transit one copy and set of info hashes. Bonus: No more "mixed content" warnings. A secured page pulling in resources by hash code knows they aren't tampered with. Yeah, the space Internet would kick even more ass here on Earth, can't wait to see what new tech the Mars race brings.

Mars One, has the right idea -- Reminds me of when Kennedy said we'd put men on the moon. You don't have to have everything planned out before you commit to a goal, and their goal isn't even as hard -- Don't even have to build their own rockets. A journey of 40 million miles starts with a single moronic impulse.

Re:idiocranial projection (4, Interesting)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 7 months ago | (#45925121)

The only difference is Kennedy could commit ~1% of the GDP of the most powerful nation (at the time) for ten years. Mars One has Kickstarter.

Re:idiocranial projection (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45925925)

You see, we gave the finger to Darwin a long time ago with our medical science...

Not really. Now we're simply evolving for different things, like resistance to side effects of medication, and resistance to antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Re:idiocracy (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 7 months ago | (#45925785)

I will personally contribute a vast sum to send Honey Boo Boo on a one-way trip to Mars -- on the condition that communication is *not* part of the package.

no corporate buy-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924199)

Low-credibility means corporations are not interested. And why should they be? There is no money to be made in helping slaves emigrate to a place far away from the control of Earth corporations.

Re:no corporate buy-in (1)

PsyMan (2702529) | about 7 months ago | (#45924849)

You have to think of the longer term returns, We Brits once sent our unwanted criminals off to a far flung inhospitable red land. Eventually they sent back Fosters Lager and Neigbours on TV. hmmm

Lagrange Points (2)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 7 months ago | (#45924311)

Just throw a few communication satellites in the Earth-Sun L3 and L4/L5 (or both, for redundancy) points and finish developing that interplanetary internet protocol for them, then call it a day. This really should be trivial with existing tech, once the protocol is finished and if someone wants to fund the rocket launches. Seriously, if we can do the STEREO mission, we can do this.

Re:Lagrange Points (1)

mbone (558574) | about 7 months ago | (#45924481)

L3 won't help you (neither will L1 or L2). L4 and L5 would. The big thing here is the cost. This is like a 1.3% tax on all Mars missions, which to date NASA has seen as cheaper than putting in relay satellites.

Re:Lagrange Points (1)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | about 7 months ago | (#45925907)

I was thinking that, if you put satellites in all three of those (obviously not L1 and L2), you would have a redundant group (including Earth itself) that would have direct line-of-sight at all times to pretty much everything in the solar system.

Re:Lagrange Points (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45924517)

I was thinking Jupiter's L1 for the redundant position. Should be able to see the Earth and Mars from there almost all the time.

Re:Lagrange Points (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#45925525)

aren't there a bunch of gravitational anomalies in Jupiter's Lagrange points? Asteroids I believe they were called.

Re:Lagrange Points (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 months ago | (#45925627)

I've not been to check. When I go on Expedia to book, the flights are always full.

Every 780 days (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 7 months ago | (#45924327)

Once per synodic period (779.94 days) you will lose 10 days or so during superior conjunction, or ~ 1.3% of the time. NASA gives its spaceships at Mars a vacation (for the rovers, generally a long integration X ray spectrum of some rock). If Mars One really worries losing contact even for that little, they can either build a cycler, or put a relay somewhere else (say, orbiting Venus).

Re:Every 780 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924911)

There would be times (rare, admittedly) when Venus would also be aligned with the Earth, Mars and the Sun. Using Earth L4 and L5 is more reliable.

Re:Every 780 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925197)

> ... put a relay somewhere else (say, orbiting Venus).

Look up Venus Equilateral.

Re:Every 780 days (0)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 7 months ago | (#45926051)

Once per synodic period (779.94 days) you will lose 10 days or so during superior conjunction, or ~ 1.3% of the time. NASA gives its spaceships at Mars a vacation (for the rovers, generally a long integration X ray spectrum of some rock).

So that's what they're doing when they're analysing a rock "really well" http://xkcd.com/695/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Every 780 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45926313)

The goal of Mars One isn't to put a colony on Mars, it's to make the ultimate reality TV. Maintaining constant contact is a pretty important for that goal.

tvshower29 (1)

tvshower29 (3494331) | about 7 months ago | (#45924371)

Mars is one place which scientist still searching for lives. hope one day they got success and reveal surprising to us.

Obvious solution. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#45924383)

Run the whole thing from a abandoned United States Army Air Corps desert base [wikipedia.org] and 24/7 communications won't be a problem.

Re:Obvious solution. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#45926003)

Interesting fact about that movie - the desert scenes were shot on Mars.

What't the point of this? (3, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#45924387)

So if we do manage to send the ship with all of the bureaucrats and hair stylists and telephone sanitizers to Mars, what is the point of trying to maintain communications 24/7? After all, pretty much anything that you do without science fiction technology is going to have a round trip delay of up to 1/2 hour or so at some times. The "colony" has to be pretty damn independent. I don't see any real need to convince yourself that you have 24/7 communications with delays like they would experience. Even daily communication would need some sort of relay when the sun gets in the way, but trying for 24/7 is overkill and pointless.

Re:What't the point of this? (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#45925117)

The point is that more telephone sanitizers and middle managers will be born here, and we need funds and fame to get them to keep getting on the B-ships. 24/7/355 isn't quite buzzword compliant. Also, tensions may run high -- blackouts are key times for mutiny. You know, sort of like on Skylab? [vice.com] On a different planet it could be far worse, "And the cameras are coming back online folks -- OMFG! WTF?! Managers are caught in the middle of a hostile take over! Audio is out: Not a single phone is sanitized. Oh the humanity! The bureaucrats' tape runs red! What could have caused this carnage?"

NASA and other Mars missions also could benefit from a relay, so maybe if it's only partially in the budget they can collaborate for an international relay station with other agencies like ESA, JAXA, NASA, etc. throwing in a few resources -- you know, like NASA's international partners did for Curiosity?

To seriously answer your question: They are STUDYING to figure out if there is any point. They're checking it out to see if it's feasible. Surely you don't have a problem with that; I mean you wouldn't just dismiss something as impossible because it's non-essential, eh? You're on Slashdot, no? Maybe as part of the payload to Mars drop a relay on the way, etc. The point of doing this research is to get a better handle on the situation.

Re:What't the point of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925511)

How else are we supposed to record Big Brother - Mars?

Re:What't the point of this? (1)

marga (455344) | about 7 months ago | (#45926309)

The whole point of Mars One is to be funded by broadcasting 24/7. If there are 10 days of disconnections (as some other post says, I don't know the details), there are 10 days of loss in advertisement.

Lagrange Points! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924411)

Why do we not have relay communications equipment at lagrange points L4 and L5? Am I missing something here, even if we aren't talking about this study?

What? No need? How about we create a need!

24/7 ? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#45924463)

Shouldn't they be using Martian units? I know a Martian Day is a bit longer than 24 hrs, not sure about their weeks

Re:24/7 ? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 7 months ago | (#45925675)

The week is an arbitrary unit that has nothing to do with rotation or orbit of the sun or the moon. Different communities have had different week lengths throughout history.

4 satelites should cover the setup. (0)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 7 months ago | (#45924475)

Essentially you could do it with two, but 4 gives you the redundancy needed. Start by putting a satelite in orbit around the sun on Earth's orbit, but leading by 120 degrees. A second trailing by 120 degrees. At all times you'll have at least one unobstructed LOS path to Mars, and most of the time 3. That said, the distance is enough that it would be a good idea to double the possible paths. Put two more satelites up in orbit of the sun, on Mars orbit, one leading by 120 degrees, one trailing by 120 degrees. Make sure that all four of these satelites track Mars, Earth, and preferably each other.

You could also just put three satelites in orbit of the sun in Venus orbit, 60 degrees before and behind, and at 180 degrees, The advantage here is that you have more theoretical power available via solar collection here. The down side is more hard radiation to contend with. Additional down side here is that these three points are not quite as stable for orbit mantenance as the 120 degree trojan points for Earth and Mars.

Latency is high enough, in any of these paths that you will not be using IP. DECnet protocol would be sufficient. Worst case path from Mars to MarsT1/2, to Earth in opposition to Mars would be on the close order of 600 million kilometers one way, 1,200 million kilometers round trip. Divide that by 300,000 km and we get a round trip light speed time of roughly 4000 seconds, or a little over an hour and 6 min., not including signal regeneration time.

Ok, a theoretically worse path that might have to be taken would be where earth's moon is between Earth and Mars, and the Earth-Moon pair is on the cord between Mars and we are limited to using the other Martian Trojan orbital point, which gives a round trip distance of close to 1,500 Million kilometers. Though I would immagine that it would be easier to put a couple of satelites at L4 and L5, or even a constelation of polar orbiting satelites of the moon would effectively address that, and I suspect it would be less expensive to establish.

Re:4 satelites should cover the setup. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#45924553)

Latency is high enough, in any of these paths that you will not be using IP. DECnet protocol would be sufficient. Worst case path from Mars to MarsT1/2, to Earth in opposition to Mars would be on the close order of 600 million kilometers one way, 1,200 million kilometers round trip. Divide that by 300,000 km and we get a round trip light speed time of roughly 4000 seconds, or a little over an hour and 6 min., not including signal regeneration time.

Heh! I'm just imagining Martian colonists using UUCP. I'd love to see some Martian bang paths.

Re:4 satelites should cover the setup. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#45925917)

Thankfully, these days we have maps and won't have to bang our way to mars. UUCP wouldn't be a satisfactory solution, however, because it's designed to get instant confirmation of delivery before retiring a job from the queue. What is needed is a new daemon that sends messages via UDP with high redundancy and keeps trying to deliver as time slots become available until receipt is reported.

Re:4 satelites should cover the setup. (1)

pla (258480) | about 7 months ago | (#45926419)

Essentially you could do it with two, but 4 gives you the redundancy needed.

I'll see your two, and raise you to "one".

A single satellite just a few million miles above (or below) the orbital plane of our solar system will always have line-of-sight to both Earth and Mars (and also to Jupiter and Venus, as a bonus). Even our own relatively huge moon won't occlude that.

Of course, "uninterrupted" has problems other than actual occlusion by a planet/sun/moon. CMEs could always knock out communications no matter how much redundancy we put in place; and you need to factor in a wide range of latencies - A hair over three minutes at opposition, but up to a whopping 22 minutes at apheliion (actually, 1337 seconds, for a funny coincidence).

Mars 3.428571...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924515)

So that's how the Martians roll. They don't have a decimal system, they use fractions! They even have fractional Mars stations -- maybe they haven't discovered integers yet.

Starlite Starbrite (1)

Wizel603 (1367631) | about 7 months ago | (#45924829)

After opening the Mars One web site, why do I get the feeling that their concept artist is oddly familiar with trailer parks?

Here's another project that needs funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45924947)

Finding out what is wrong psychologically with people who think colonizing Mars is possible or desirable.

Re:Here's another project that needs funding (4, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 7 months ago | (#45925135)

Yeah. Instead we should build a new factory in China where children can assemble happy meal toys for other children half the world away to play with for five minutes and throw away. That at least has a legitimate business purpose of getting children addicted to greasy food and low fructose corn syrup. Mars! Some people!

Re:Here's another project that needs funding (1)

lapm (750202) | about 7 months ago | (#45925667)

Anything is bossible. Its only matter of question how much effort and resources its going to take to make it happen.

How to keep in touch with life on Mars (1)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#45925275)

A TV test pattern, a radio, or an old landline touchtone phone. Problem solved.

not low... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45925321)

...more like zero

I don't see a problem (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#45925535)

How hard is it to maintain a fiber to the fake Mars base in the Atamaca desert?

Interesting problems ahead (1)

lapm (750202) | about 7 months ago | (#45925657)

Its not difficult to maintain constant connection, add few satellites in good spots in space to bounce signal throw.. Its bandwidth issue. They want to make reality tv out of this so that's going to take some massive bandwidth between two planets. Video streaming down on earth is sometimes difficult all ready.. Add significant distance between planets that's constantly changing and you have problems...

Put a communications relay satellite ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 7 months ago | (#45925687)

... in orbit around L4/L5 of Mars. Problem solved.

space cred = 0, so what? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#45925805)

Sham or not, the studies Mars One must engage in to at least look credible do represent real science. Whether or not they plan on actually getting people to Mars (I'm betting not) the ideas they are forced to approach could potentially serve as real foundation and R&D time saver for actually getting there someday.
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