CSIRO to help provide 'live' feed from Mars mission

A CSIRO research scientist has developed a technology which uses beamformers to receive multiple narrowband transmissions sent from space, and translate them into one broadband signal.

John Bunton

John Bunton

The astronauts from NASA's planned manned mission to Mars will be able to send back a 'live' video feed thanks to technology developed by the CSIRO.

CSIRO research scientist Dr John Bunton is to receive a NASA Space Act Board Award for conceiving a design for the technology which will allow this to happen.

The problem Bunton helped overcome was that NASA's deep space network lacked the sensitivity to receive video signals from Mars, despite operating a 70m antenna.

One solution was to build an array of around 400 smaller antennas, each picking up a bit of the signal, but it would have been very difficult to combine the signals with the required precision.

Bunton's solution, the Deep Space Array Based Network Beamformer, will divide the video signal data into narrow channels. Each will be transported to beamformer boards, which can easily recombine each data-stream into a single broadband signal.

A prototype of the system has been shown to work on signals from NASA's Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn.

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