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International Space Station after undocking of STS 132

The ISS Now Has Better Internet Than Most of Us After Its Latest Upgrade

  • Recently NASA upgraded the connection of ISS as a result of which it can transmit data at double the existing rate. ISS can now send and receive data at a speed of 600 megabit-per-second (Mbps)
  • For increasing the data rate, components in the global communications system were also upgraded
  • A new digital ground architecture for Space Network was upgraded along with circuits in the land data lines connecting various components on Earth. 
  • Data processors at NASA were changed along with the ISS software-based modem.

Data connectivity is very crucial in this age. We are constantly connected to each other through the web and it gets very important when it comes to research that can lead to deep space destinations such as the Moon and Mars. 

Recently NASA upgraded the connection of ISS as a result of which it can transmit data at double the existing rate. To ensure seamless transfer of mission data to control centres on Earth an effective communication system gets the top priority. ISS can now send and receive data at a speed of 600 megabit-per-second (Mbps)  at any point in time. Similar upgrades will be deployed in the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway proposed by NASA. 

George Morrow, acting centre director of Goddard Space Flight Center said that for every NASA mission, the communication system plays a very important role. It helps in the transfer of data from human spaceflight and space research missions to Earth. Upgradation in the communication transfer for ISS displays commitment in the services for current and future NASA missions. 

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ISS has given the astronauts an opportunity to conduct research which would not be possible on Earth since its operations started in 2000. This has allowed learning about the effects of long duration in space on human bodies and testing of different technology in the presence of microgravity. All these experiments need very high speed of data transmission between ISS and Earth. Now it would be possible to conduct experiments which need higher resolution data. 

Risha George, upgrade project lead said that the project showed that advanced radiofrequency waveforms can be used for increasing the rate of data transmission and thereby improve the performance for high-speed communication services. They can also be used for missions in the future like the Gateway which will be a stepping stone to human exploration on Mars. Data communication between ISS and Earth takes place with the help of ground-based antennas known as Space Network and system of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites(TDRS).

These satellites are placed in a high orbit over various strategic locations so they can relay data to the ground, which is then sent to various NASA centres using landlines where it is interpreted. The entire process has a delay of less than a second. For increasing the data rate, components in the global communications system were also upgraded. A new digital ground architecture for Space Network was upgraded along with circuits in the land data lines connecting various components on Earth. 

Upgrades were also made to the ISS software-based modem, improved data-processors were installed at various NASA centres, as well as new software and hardware at the ground stations. Rigorous testing followed to check that the upgrades functioned properly. During the upgradation, the network still supported more than 40 missions in real-time. Penny Roberts, upgrade project lead for the space station said that it was possible due to cooperation from NASA which can take the partnership to scale new heights. 

About the author: Kshitij Kumar Moderator
Kshitij has always been passionate about Science and Technology. He is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from IIT Jodhpur. Kshitij has worked in many fields of Science and Marketing. Along with managing backend and technicalities of the website, he is also one of our editors and marketing managers. Kshitij was the one who came up with the idea of connecting people interested in Science and built a team which is now ScienceHook.

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