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Mission Overview

The Mars Network is proposed micro-mission for 2003 which will begin to put in place a complete communications infrastructure for future exploration of Mars. The Mars Network will be part of the Interplanetary Internet.

(under construction)


Mars Network

Mars Network
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The NewsWire: Mars Network
New!2-Mar-2004 - Broadband alive and well on Mars (The Age)
While many Australians are still waiting for the high-speed internet revolution to reach their doorsteps, NASA's twin Mars exploration rovers are enjoying broadband links on the Red Planet. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have smashed Martian data speed records by sustaining a 256 kbps uplink to a satellite. As they scour the planet for signs of life they upload information to either the Mars Odyssey or Mars Global Surveyor satellites orbiting Mars via UHF antennas.
19-Feb-2004 - MER Telecommunications Architecture (NASA)
This graphic shows the various communication links between Earth and the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. These links include X-band direct to Earth, UHF relay links via the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) and Odyssey orbiters, and a backup/demo UHF link via ESA's Mars Express orbiter.
13-Feb-2004 - NASA Bumps Up Data Rate From Mars Rovers (AP)
NASA upgraded the bandwidth connection to its pokey twin Mars rovers, a boost that will allow scientists to send and receive data like pictures more quickly, a mission manager said Friday. The rate is now nearly five times the speed of home dial-up Internet connections.
12-Feb-2004 - Interplanetary International Internet Launched (
In a sign of cosmic communications to come, last week mission controllers sent signals to a Mars-orbiting European spacecraft, which relayed the instructions to NASA's Spirit rover on the surface, and a signal was returned to Earth back along the same path. It was the initial transmission across what could be called the first-generation Interplanetary International Internet.
6-Feb-2004 - The 100-Million-Mile Network (Baseline)
Think your network is hard to manage? Try remote diagnosis and repair when you're relying on radio signals from Mars. Eighteen days after landing on Mars, the robotic explorer named Spirit squawked in distress and went silent for nearly 24 hours. Listening anxiously for any sign of life were navigators at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. They had to fix a broken interplanetary communications link that reached more than 100 million miles (and counting-the distance keeps growing as the orbits of Earth and Mars draw apart).
21-Jan-2004 - Storm clouds over Australia give US Mars robot a day of rest (SpaceDaily)
Thunder and lightning storms over Australia Wednesday prevented NASA from sending the Mars robot Spirit its daily "road map," giving the six-wheeled explorer a rest on its 18th day on Mars, NASA said.
11-Jan-2004 - Israeli technology enables images beamed from Mars (ISRAEL21c)
Research by three scientists from the Haifa Technion made the transmission of video pictures from Mars by the NASA explorer "Spirit" possible, according to HP (Hewlett Packard) Labs, which was responsible for the image transmissions. The ability to transmit the images was feasible thanks to a unique algorithm developed by Technion graduates living in the US as a continuation of work launched by two other Technion professors a quarter of a century ago.
9-Jan-2004 - Mars downloaders swamp NASA Web site (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Think of the Library of Congress's entire print collections - and then some - to get an idea of how much data space enthusiasts have downloaded from NASA's Web sites this week. Visitors had obtained more than 34.6 terabytes of images, video and other information as of Friday afternoon, the bulk related to the Mars rover Spirit. By some estimates, all the words in every book in the Library of Congress total 20 terabytes.
29-Dec-2003 - Red Planet 911: Mars Rover Hotline Set Up (
Think of it as the Mars equivalent of an emergency 911 call for help. Operators of NASA's Mars rovers have established a backup remote site in the event of a natural disaster, malfunctioning ground equipment, or even a terrorist attack to maintain critical contact with space vehicles as they near the red planet. A unique Emergency Control Center, or ECC, has been set up at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colorado. If a natural or human-generated event interrupted JPL operations, the ECC would assume control of the vehicles as they streak toward their Mars landings.
24-Dec-2003 - Out of This World (ABCNews)
The solar system's largest wireless network just got a face-lift. With $54 million of improvements — including a new 110-foot antenna near Madrid, Spain — the Deep Space Network (DSN) is ready to support a barrage of space research in 2004. The DSN, operated for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will be used to communicate with spacecrafts landing on Mars collecting comet dust, and probing the rings and moons of Saturn. Although its maximum throughput of 2.2 Mbps may seem slow compared with standard wireless Wi-Fi networks, the DSN will be able to send signals beyond Pluto's orbit to Voyager 1.
15-Dec-2003 - Phoning Home (ABCNews)
The first thing controllers hope to hear as the earliest of three Mars probes touches down on the Red Planet on Christmas day is a nine-tone ditty by the British rock band, Blur. From that point on, Mars will only get noisier. If all goes to plan, three probes will be exploring Mars' surface by the end of January and relaying everything they learn back to Earth directly or by way of two orbiters that are now zipping around the planet. NASA is bracing for the communications crunch.
10-Dec-2003 - Wi-Fi On Mars? (TelecomWeb)
Well, they’ve been putting hotspots everywhere else. San Mateo, Calif.-based Tropos Networks reports that NASA has successfully tested its 5510 Wi-Fi Cell equipment at a research site in Arizona’s Meteor Crater, where the agency tests technologies for interplanetary deployment. With the increased use of remote instruments in interplanetary exploration, most notably the small, mobile Sojourner rover deployed with the Mars Pathfinder mission, NASA is evaluating ways of networking several devices operating within a relatively short range of a landing site — which sounds a lot like a Wi-Fi hotspot.
5-Nov-2003 - Deep Space Network Gears Up for Interplanetary Boom (NASA)
NASA'S Deep Space Network has completed a number of upgrades to help support the fleet of more than two dozen spacecraft touring the solar system. Among the upgrades is the addition of a new 34-meter (110-foot) antenna near Madrid, Spain, which began operations on November 1, 2003.
1-Nov-2003 - The Dish again at NASA's cosmic service (The Age)
More than 34 years after the Parkes radio telescope relayed to the world pictures of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, NASA has commissioned it again, this time to help manage a looming cosmic traffic jam. US ambassador Tom Schieffer yesterday visited the western NSW town to launch the radio telescope's new role in tracking a fleet of probes exploring Mars and the outer limits of the solar system.
31-Oct-2003 - Parkes prepares for US ambassador visit (ABC Central West)
Parkes' residents in eastern central NSW are today readying themselves for a visit to their town by the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer. Parkes has a long association with the United States through its radio telescope. Mr Schieffer's visit will acknowledge the 42nd anniversary of the commissioning of the "Dish".
8-Oct-2003 - Red Planet Calling: How Mars Probes Phone Home (
With four spacecraft from three space agencies on the way to Mars, a communications crunch at the Red Planet is hardly unexpected. But managers of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) believe they are ready to handle the traffic. The network is Earth's prime hotline for planetary and deep space missions launched by NASA and other space agencies. It includes tracking stations in Australia, Spain and California responsible for receiving signals from all of the Mars probes, as well as the Cassini mission to Saturn and Stardust's Wild-2 comet rendezvous among others.
29-Jun-2003 - Signals from space JPL set for challenge of tracking several missions (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
By January 2004, three rovers will trundle across the surface of Mars and two satellites will join a pair already in orbit there. Two spacecraft will perform a delicate dance with dusty comets, and another 20 or so scattered through space will continue their own journeys. All need the Deep Space Network to talk to Earth.
5-May-2003 - Klipsch Receives Grant To Analyze Communication Networks On Planetary Rovers (SpaceDaily)
The Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University was recently awarded a three-year, $650,000 grant from the NASA Glenn Research Center. The grant, which is under the Space Communication Program, will fund research regarding the modeling, simulation and analysis of the data communications network for autonomous, planetary rovers, said Phillip L. De Leon, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
2-May-2003 - On the Edge: Interplanetary Internet (
On the freezing surface of Mars, a sensor takes readings of the thin atmosphere and transmits the data to an automated rover, which relays the information to an orbiting satellite. From there, the data packets are sent to an approaching research ship, where astronauts study the readings and send their findings back to Earth, via e-mail. Via e-mail?! This may sound like science fiction, but it is becoming science fact.
28-Apr-2003 - NMSU wired for Mars project (The Albuquerque Tribune)
New Mexico State University has a question for the Martians: Can you hear us now? The university was awarded a three-year, $650,000 grant from the National Air and Space Administration to design a wireless communications network for planetary rovers on Mars. The network will let NASA rovers on Mars quickly and easily transmit their findings back to Earth, said Stephen Horan, an electrical engineering professor who will help lead the project.
5-Mar-2003 - ESA's first deep space ground station opens in Western Australia (esa)
The inauguration ceremony for the European Space Agency's first deep space ground station was held today in New Norcia, 150km north of Perth. The completion of the New Norcia facility, its first deep space ground station, is an important event for ESA. The station will play a major role in the Agency's deep space missions, including Rosetta and Mars Express, the latter expected to launch in May this year.
28-Feb-2003 - Fireys save Mission to Mars (The Australian)
IF NASA's latest super-duper space buggy finds life on Mars this time around, humankind should thank the firefighters of the ACT. When the outskirts of Canberra were burning five weeks ago, a legion of NASA scientists in the US feared they would lose one of their prime space tracking stations, the Tidbinbilla plant 35km southwest of the nation's capital. The loss of Tidbinbilla's dishes would have been catastrophic, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory director Charles Elachi told a gathering of firefighters, space scientists and technicians yesterday.
25-Feb-2003 - OK, our next caller is... from Mars! (esa)
It is midnight on 1 January 2004 and you want to send a greeting on your mobile phone to a friend. Sorry, the line is too busy, try again later. If you think you are alone with this problem, you are wrong. Space agencies have had to work out ingenious solutions to prevent similar 'engaged, call later' tones from happening on Mars. For the first time, there will be seven spacecraft on the Red Planet at the same time. Will they all be able to 'phone home'?
21-Jan-2003 - Australian bush fires closed Deep Space Network (New Scientist)
The firestorms that devastated the Canberra region at the weekend, killing four people, also forced NASA's Deep Space Network facility offline for four hours, it has emerged. The DSN installation, 40 km from the Australian capital, is responsible for tracking and controlling deep space spacecraft from the southern hemisphere. There are two other tracking stations in the northern hemisphere.
16-Dec-2002 - Wireless to Mars and 3G vs. PHS Speed Test (Wireless Watch Japan)
"They have high-speed network links back to planet Earth. The architecture diagram of Mars Rover looks just like the architecture diagram of any ol' Earth-based, end-to-end enterprise app. And they've got this problem that the network link is very slow... it has high latency." Well of course. It covers a hundred million kilometers. Join us for WWJ's special year-end program!
7-Dec-2002 - Intel's connecting the Net to Mars (ZDNet News)
Intel is working on bringing the Internet to the bottom of the ocean, the surface of Mars and, on a more prosaic note, into conference room thermostats and hospital charts. Intel's vision for "proactive computing"--in which remote sensors will feed information about the physical world to computers for analysis and use by humans--is moving closer to reality, said David Tennenhouse, vice president and director of Intel research, at the MicroVentures conference taking place here this week. Additionally, the company is raising the ante in showing how and where the technology can be used. Intel itself, for example, has teamed with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to use the technology to create an Internet link to Mars. The remote sensors will gather raw data about the planet's environment and beam it up to an orbiting router.
15-Nov-2002 - 'Father of the Internet' ponders Mars (Toronto Star)
Vinton Cerf, the man who co-created the Internet nearly 30 years ago, wants to expand his world-changing invention into two uncharted territories — the solar system and his wife's brain. The first involves an ambitious project with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is working toward an interplanetary "network of networks," beginning with a link between Mother Earth and Mars. It would function similar to the way our terrestrial Internet operates today.
6-Sep-2002 - CSIRO to help ease NASA's "traffic jam" (CSIRO Australia)
When six spacecraft besiege Mars in early 2004, CSIRO will help NASA catch as much data from them as possible. The three tracking stations of NASA's Deep Space Network – near Canberra, Madrid in Spain and Goldstone in California – will be working flat out to monitor the Mars craft and several others. CSIRO oversees the operation of the Canberra station on NASA's behalf. "We've recently upgraded the station," says station Director Mr Peter Churchill. "We can now listen to two spacecraft and talk to one of them, all at the same time through one antenna." And the Parkes telescope has been contracted to lend a hand by tracking some of the Mars spacecraft and others from November 2003 to February 2004. NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey probes are already orbiting the planet. Six more missions will arrive in 2003-04.
25-Jul-2002 - Laser communications crucial for space exploration (New Scientist)
New spacecraft and satellites must be fitted with lasers to transmit digital signals back to optical telescopes on Earth, argue astronomers in a new analysis. The alternative is that the ever-increasing amount of data collected by their improved sensors will get jammed in a serious communications bottleneck, cramping the exploration of the Earth and Solar System Space missions currently being planned will collect several billion bits (gigabits) of data per second. Since the data can only be transmitted back to Earth for a short time every day or two, the satellites will need to transmit about 100 gigabits per second.
15-Jul-2002 - JPL Envisions Public Use of Mars Images, Deep Space Network (
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) believes that if you can’t put people on Mars, the next best thing is bringing Mars to the people. William Weber, director of JPL’s Deep Space Network (DSN), wants to use NASA’s interplanetary communication system to excite the public about space exploration, and says JPL is looking for partners outside the traditional space industries. “Public participation in planetary exploration is a fraction of what it could be,” Weber said at the JPL Industry Briefing last month, sponsored by the National Space Club’s West Coast Committee.
19-Feb-2002 - Space Net (PC Magazine)
If you thought setting up a DSL connection was tough, try setting up a multi-planet connection. Under the aegis of NASA Jet Propulsion Labs and its interplanetary communications project, WorldCom executive Vint Cerf—often called the father of the Internet—hopes to bring Internet connectivity to the rest of the solar system. By establishing TCP/IP networks on Mars or on orbiting crafts and tying these networks to earth via an interplanetary protocol known as bundles, the team hopes to have a two-planet Internet as soon as 2008. "And then," concluded Cerf, "we'll eventually create a backbone for interplanetary communication."
24-Dec-2001 - 2003 Missions Will Go to Mars with Christmas Spirit (NASA)
Two years from now, Mars will be receiving Christmas gifts from the Earth - a whole fleet of spacecraft. The crafts are gifts from different nations, and will share communications channels to solve a problem which will intensify as Mars exploration gets on track: how to relay the data back to Earth gathered by many different missions. The first will arrive just before Christmas of 2003: the European Space Agency's Mars Express and its lander, Beagle 2. The New Year will bring with it the Japanese ISAS's Nozomi and NASA's two Rovers. These will join NASA's Mars Odyssey, which arrived on Mars last October and will still be operating.
16-Jul-2001 - Internet To Mars (Computerworld)
The mining of asteroids, space-based hotels, zero-gravity manufacturing and medicine - they're all part of the future commercialization of space, according to a joint government and industry group that's developing the InterPlaNetary (IPN) Internet. Starting this year, with NASA funding, the IPN will roll out in pieces over the next several decades to support communications among spaceships, robots and manned and unmanned outposts in the solar system.
13-Jun-2001 - Overload (ABCNews)
NASA is bracing for a flood of radio signals as more than 25 spacecraft exploring the solar system all phone home. And with Japan, Europe and the United States all launching probes to Mars and other destinations, the stress on the web of antennas tuned to space will only increase, scientists say. The crunch time will be during late 2003 and early 2004, when many of the missions reach crucial points in their journeys, according to NASA.
13-Jun-2001 - NASA's Deep Space Network Extends its Reach (
For worldwide webaholics a glitch-free, fast and powerful computer along with unlimited speed and access to the Internet is a dream come true. You can reach anything and anyone with the right amount of bandwidth and the correct software. Fast communication has never been easier. In space, however, no one can hear you Instant Messaging. For the computer console jockeys that monitor humanity’s ever-growing fleet of deep space satellites and spacecraft, they want bigger, faster and more powerful ways to communicate.
6-Jun-2001 - The Deep Space Network (NASA Science)
NASA's traffic control system for interplanetary spacecraft is bracing for a flurry of activity in deep space. "We're getting ready for a crunch period beginning in November 2003," said Rich Miller, head of planning and commitments at JPL. That's when the U.S., Europe and Japan all will have missions arriving at Mars. These include NASA's 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers, the ESA Mars Express Mission, and the Japanese Nozomi spacecraft. And, of course, other ongoing missions will have continuing communications needs.
3-Jun-2001 - How long till you can send e-mail to Mars? (Houston Chronicle)
To reach colonists on Mars, you might attach "mars.sol" to the e-mail address. For retrieving images from one of Jupiter's moons, a file transfer from a "europa.sol" site might be in order. The space missions making that possible may be years or lifetimes away, but initial steps toward extending the Internet's reach are already in the works. The first component, a short-range transceiver, hitched a ride on the Mars Odyssey, which was launched in April and is due to reach the Red Planet in October.
24-May-2001 - You've got mail--from Mars! (ZDNet News)
Described as a "work in progress," the proposal to the Internet Engineering Task Force--the group that sets standards for the Net--calls for terrestrial testing of interplanetary Internet protocols later this year, with a live test onboard the NASA Mars mission in 2003. "What we are fundamentally about is deploying as much re-usable, standardized communications infrastructure as we can afford around the solar system, so that future missions don't have to take it all along with them," said Adrian J. Hooke, manager of the DARPA InterPlaNetary Internet (IPN) Project and co-author of the proposal. "They can use capabilities put in place by other missions."
10-May-2001 - Deep Space Network Upgrading For Planetary Jam (SpaceDaily)
Preparing for the communication needs of an expected population boom in interplanetary spacecraft, NASA has selected a builder to add an advanced dish antenna, 34 meters in diameter (112 feet), near Madrid, Spain, one of the three sites of the agency's Deep Space Network. The Deep Space Network is a global system for communicating with interplanetary spacecraft.
24-Mar-2001 - That's Entertainment (New Scientist)
If you like TV, you'll love the Mars Channel. Take your seats for the network premiere of interplanetary telly. When you watched Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon, it was like watching a TV show shot through someone's nylons," recalls Bill Foster. Yet, he admits, those blurred shots fired the public's passion for space travel. Now, 32 years on, Foster plans to reignite those flames with footage so clear and crisp you could be scaling the mountains of Mars from your sofa.
28-Feb-2001 - Interview: Building the interplanetary Internet (CNN)
Mars, with its wind-sculpted surface and possibilities of ancient life, has always held deep fascination for humans. Ever since the first Viking spacecraft landed there a quarter century ago and sent back the first pictures of the martian landscape, that fascination has only deepened. In 1997 the Mars Pathfinder became the latest visitor to land there successfully, enchanting the public at home with a series of visually stunning panoramic shots that have whetted the appetite for future and more extensive exploration of the red planet. What the public didn't know was just how difficult those shots were to engineer and to get back to Earth. The Pathfinder could send data at an average of only 30 megabits a day, meaning one panorama could take many days to relay.
4-Dec-2000 - Deep Space Network Faces Major Crunch (
The worldwide array of antennas NASA uses to communicate with its interplanetary spacecraft faces a looming crisis in late 2003, when nearly a dozen different missions will require as much as three times the network support the giant dishes can handle.
16-Nov-2000 - 'Beanie Baby' Satellites to Ride Russian Rockets (
One Stop Satellite Solutions (OSSS) is hoping to do for space access what Henry Ford did for the automobile -- make it cheap enough for average folks. Combining a 4-inch (10-centimeter) "CubeSat" developed by the University of Stanford, and a horde of demilitarized Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launchers, OSSS can launch your 2.2-pound (1-kilogram) payload for about $45,000. To make sure the CubeSats don't stay up indefinitely, they would normally only be launched up to about 125 miles (200 kilometers). But if they're launched to a higher orbit, boosting a small payload to the Moon or even Mars is relatively easy, Twiggs said. "If you want to put something around Mars, this can do it affordably," he added.
13-Nov-2000 - How an Interplanetary Internet Will Work (
You can talk to almost anyone, in any corner of the world, almost instantly because of the Internet and other advances in electronic communication. Scientists and space explorers now are looking for a way to communicate almost instantly beyond Earth. The next phase of the Internet will take us to far reaches of our solar system, and lay the groundwork for a communications system for a manned missions to Mars and planets beyond.
15-Oct-2000 - Stand by for e-mails from men on Mars (The Sunday Times)
MARS could soon be buzzing with its own internet. Nasa, the American space agency, wants to girdle the silent red planet with powerful satellites to help astronauts communicate with each other and with Earth. Starting next year the agency aims to launch a series of spacecraft that will form the building blocks of the new system. If Nasa succeeds in establishing a network of manned bases on Mars - perhaps as early as 2014 - the inhabitants should be able to send and receive e-mails. Plans are due to be announced in the next few months.
23-May-2000 - Microsats for Mars (Beyond 2000)
With the recent loss of both Mars Polar Lander and the Climate Orbiter, NASA may be about to fast track its plans to put a constellation of micro-satellites around Mars, giving the planet its own internet. The Mars Network will give future Martian probes a better idea of where they are and a faster way of getting information back to Earth. It is the first step in giving NASA a virtual presence elsewhere in the solar system and it may even provide the likes of you and me with high-bandwidth access to the Red Planet.
5-May-2000 - NASA Turns On First Internet Node In Space (SpaceDaily)
NASA has demonstrated the ability to use standard Internet protocols to communicate with an orbiting spacecraft just like any other node on the Internet.
7-Mar-2000 - Ohio-based Company to Fly Rings Around Mars (
When NASA rolls out its latest plan for its Mars program, one tiny company will likely be sharing the stage with space-business heavyweight Lockheed Martin. With the Red Planet now clearly the solar system's number one travel destination, Mason, Ohio-based BAE Systems/Cincinnati Electronics could play a pivotal role in a series of missions to build a mini-internet around Mars.
28-Feb-2000 - Generation InterPlanetary Internet (
Ten years from now the Internet could be a phenomenon that has expanded beyond Earth to form an interplanetary network of Internets reaching to Mars and beyond. That is the vision of Vint Cerf and his colleagues at the InterPlanetary Internet (IPN) team.
11-Dec-1999 - Cerf wants Internet to cross the final frontier (The Times of India)
The man who was instrumental in bringing about the internet revolution by designing the Internet Protocol, is now working on a project which resembles science fiction. Vincent Cerf, widely known as the `Father of the Internet', is working with six engineers to set up an `Interplanetary Internet Backbone' that would enable communication across planets.
7-Dec-1999 - Mars 'Internet' to Help Future Missions Phone Home Could Get Higher Priority (
While the final nail is not in the coffin for NASA's latest Mars mission, one thing is sure -- it's easier to phone home than to get a spacecraft to call in from the Red Planet. As ever, the space agency has another plan up its sleeve and the presumed loss of Mars Polar Lander may push that plan onto the fast track.