Copyright î 2011 by James J. Popoff
Published by The Mars Society with permission.
MMARS And Gaia Dot Org (Mars Mission Amateur Radio System And Global Amateur Interferometer Array): A Strategy For Enlisting Young People As Scientist-Participants In Mars Exploration Using Amateur Radio
By Dr. James Popoff, AJ4XI
The relevant model for the Mars Mission Amateur Radio System and Global Amateur Interferometer Array is the highly successful ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) project undertaken by NASA and the ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) and AMSAT, with school children worldwide.
Goals of the ARISS program include (from the ARRL Home Page, http://www.arrl.org/):
Amateur radio operators will need to deploy innovative mission elements such as geographically-distributed and internet-mediated virtual antenna arrays, multimedia data streaming schemes using compandering, encoding, and compression, and software-defined radios in order to meet the severely-taxing link budgets required for reliable telecommunications with interplanetary crews. However, most of the technology already exists, although the adaptations necessary are nontrivial. This agenda is extreme in terms of knowledge for even advanced radio amateurs today, but may be the ideal inspirational objective for the youthful energy of our world, especially given augmented tools such as mobile broadband communications and emerging modes of youth culture. The educational constraints on all parties represent the most serious impediment. Using appropriate amateur materials, enlisting the positive energies of adult radio amateurs, and recruiting professional educators and the parents worldwide, I describe a role for amateur radio in interplanetary exploration that provides credible STEM opportunities for students, and addresses knowledge transfer and other issues and pitfalls.