The Case for Mars - The Mars Society - KA9JSV

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KA9JSV, Oct 17, 2016.

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  1. KA9JSV

    KA9JSV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interest in Space has changed radically since Apollo ended in 1973 and the Shuttle Fleet has been retired.
    Advances in Science through NASA have continued since then, but mostly from Low Earth Orbit, leaving only interplanetary probes and landers to perform the state-of-the-art observations at the great distances to the planets.

    Space communications are enjoyed by all Radio Operators' with the rewards of exacting views of Mars, all the way to Pluto and well beyond.

    Human space travel beyond the Van Allen Belt stopped in 1973. Excursions to Lunar more.
    Since its conception, NASA has drafted scores and volumes of plans for every conceivable mission possible from this planet.
    But only one plan stands out as most feasible in view of the pioneering spirit of offworld adventure… Going to MARS!

    Dr. Robert Zubrin, of Pioneer Astronautics, Lakewood Colorado has a vision that extends to colonizing
    the planet Mars. His radical approach surpasses NASA's studies in "micro-gravity" since 1973 and in his words...
    "..the purpose of spaceships is to actually travel across space and go to new worlds, not to hang out
    in space and observe the effects of doing so...."
    (circa 2003, US Senate Committee of Space Exploration)
    His Book, "Case for Mars" lays out the most suitable approach of a Mars Direct (or, Semi-Direct) Plan of going there.

    The Mars Society has established a number of MARS simulation stations on Earth called “Analog Stations”.
    Two of these, MDRS & FMARS are affordable platforms offering a "near-to experience" for future Martian dwellers, in the traditions Dr. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct Program.

    Since the first "Crew 1" of 2001, the Crews have displayed techniques for:
    * Growing sustainable crops to survive,
    * Health & Medical care
    * Habitability & Water Reclamation.
    * Geodesics and Photogrammetry.
    * UAVs & Rovers
    ...all this, with devices brought with them for the duration of their stay.

    What they lack is a realistic communications system to simulate the kinds of remote communications
    they would actually use on the planet.
    This article is a call to Hams to solicit help for the Mars Society in establishing some meaningful amateur radio between and around the camps. This help can either be radio work-groups or donations towards current state-of-the-art equipment & devices.

    Amateur Radio Has a lot to offer the Mars Society activities.
    If they adopt Ham radio, then the Licensing requirements would be mandatory for Crew Members and Mission Control.

    HF Frequencies could be used for making reports to Mission Control in Colorado, New Mexico or, in relaying reports between
    the other Analogues Stations.

    Getting their licenses reminds these operators the importance of their radio studies, this is a medium to use at all times, no matter which world they are on.

    The objective is to have BOTH Analogs & Mission Control "permanently equipped" with Communications, PCs, Sensors & hardware.

    1) Mission Control Radio Communication ( HF Med / High Power )
    For "checking in" and reporting status of accommodations.

    2) Point-to-Point Communication ( VHF - Low Power )
    Mars has no ionosphere, therefore line-of-sight radio is handled by GMRS or 2 Meter Simplex Modes
    Further Distance coverage is handled by a Remote, solar-powered, Repeater Station(s).

    3) Telemetry ( VHF / UHF - Low Power using APRS )
    for Weather, Seismic Sensor, Tracking, EVA Suit & Health, power charge monitoring.

    4) Position reporting ( VHF / UHF - Low Power using APRS)
    RDF, APRS and EPLRS Methods can be used because by the time man and women arrive on MARS,
    there will be a network of GPS-MARS satellites to support exploration.
    In addition Radio Direction Finding can be useful for Search & Rescue.

    5) Ground Penetrating Radar-GPR ( UHF - 1 to 4 watts for depth data - VHF for data transfer )
    Device mounted on Rover for high definition Tomography.

    6) Satellite Communications - OSCAR SATS [any or all available] ( VHF - 20 to 35 Watts )
    Remote Satellite Dish Controller and Program for Orbital Predictions.
    Exercising the practice of tracking and piloting a Supply Ship to and from the surface.

    7) Power Management Monitoring ( VHF / UHF - Low Power )
    Solar / Thermal / RTG Power Plants and Storage Arrays.

    8) Enhanced UAV - ( VHF / UHF - Low Power)
    Ground Penetrating Radar.
    Geodesics - LIDAR and Photogrammetry.
    Seismic Sensor positioning.

    9) Packet Digipeating ( VHF simulating MARS networks)
    Wireless internet - Multi-node - Global coverage.

    Telemetry, Telemetry,'s about telemetry. The variety of existing APRS formats can be used to provide the neural life-blood of information that lives are depending on.
    The objective is to use communications in a real-world environment to gain experience in day to day operations or emergencies 250 million miles away.

    MARS simulated inhabitants would gain experience In the face of failures & power outages, and make immediate and command decisions
    as needed to conserve power in low power modes - alternate frequencies - troubleshoot – make on-the-fly Repairs. Similarly, MARS Ground Control would learn to activate alternate Tracking and communications Stations as needed to address every conceivable combination of situations no exceptions – as lives are on the line.

    Communicating at such a remote and distant location, or in the protective cover of a Habitat or EVA Suit, is as important as the air they breathe.
    The Mars Society's Analog Stations of Hanksville, Utah, and Devon Island, Northern Canadian Reaches
    have been established over 15 years at locations almost identical to the Martian terrain, but with air.
    Well over 1,000 Crew Members have dedicated their studies of alternate foods, longevity, geology,
    mapping, power generation, tomography, astronomy, terraforming, fuel production....
    ...anything....everything humanly devised, to be put to the task here and, out there.

    Seen from their Crew Reports, there's been limited use of telemetry, tracking and telecoms to date.
    University Teams who have introduced various hardware, have returned home with them and not left working systems behind to add to the stations. As such, the stations are relatively incomplete owing to the full spectrum of devices that are needed to make off world procedures successful.

    In the future, with Ham Radio participation and assistance in setting up communications, telemetry and networks, it is possible to see these Habitats fully equipped with more state-of-the art devices permanently on hand at all the Analogs and Mission Control Centers with real-time techniques and real-world equipment.

    These Analogs and Simulations are not just practicing life on Mars for the sake of isolation.
    They are trying to replicate the full spectrum of conditions that would be involved in
    communicating with the distant world humans, and reporting their findings over these actual radio links.
    Using WIFI and the internet and our latest technology is not an accurate simulation.
    With Amateur Radio communications and links we would be practicing to be becoming proficient in the techniques involved in actually settling there.

    This is a good opportunity for ham radio Elmers' participate and consider what could be used on Mars
    and then help in setting it up (as well as get new experimenters, and scientists into the hobby)

    Imagine how radio-quiet those first humans will find MARS to be.
    It will be like listening to the ether like Marconi first heard it on Earth a century ago, but without
    all the static and noise of lightening and thunderstorms.
    Maybe there are new noise sources on Mars or propagation possibilities as yet unexplored on Mars.
    Any ham radio made years ago still applies to the same Spectrum as devices do nowadays.

    The radio communications needs are not just those on the surface of Mars but also every component
    that could very well be used: enroute to - orbiting above - onto, or under the Surface of Mars.

    With the help of Hams, these Mars simulated stations on Earth can be much more than simple exercises in human isolation.
    The real-world experience with simple communications established from the ground up by the participants can be invaluable to learning about the experience of inhabiting a new world…

    Think about this opportunity to involve Ham radio in not only the future of planetary exploration but also in
    involving these active and enthusiastic experimenters into a life long pursuit of the joy of radio communications.

    Consider what you or your Club can do to participate, or provide Equipment Donations that can be the instruments of success to this endeavor.
    The Mars Society is a nonprofit, and welcomes donations pertinent to their mission goals.
    ( )

    This article is written in all due reverence to Dr. Robert Zubrin and to honor
    the late Bill Pasternak, who is quoted" "Amateur radio Belongs in Space" ( Bless you, Bill )

    Dave Duca KA9JSV, is an avid follower of The Mars Society whose ambition is to implore to
    out Future Hams, the "cause and effect' techniques that can be applied for the purposes
    of off-world adventure.
  2. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is a book, not a news release. What exactly, is the 'news', and what are you asking us to do?

    Right now, there are no funded plans to send Americans to Mars.

    This will only happen if life is discovered there.

    Chip W1YW
    Viking Intern '76
  3. KA9JSV

    KA9JSV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Chip (Nathan), W1YW....
    This is a mere article that happens to cover the quintessence
    of Amateur Radio's techniques of Telecomms and Telemetry OFF-WORLD.

    This is just off the top of my head... typed out, directly from memory, of the typical things
    that must be on the planet - to be used for exploring.

    In One Article, I Was Attempting To....
    - introduce The Mars Society
    - present the challenges of communication
    - list the types of comms & telemetry most likely needed
    - tell of the Society's Analog Stations, as a simulated habitat.
    - reporting that the Habitats do not have any comms, other than Cell Phones & One Sat Link.
    - asking Hams to participate or conspire with their skills and experiences in digital comms.
    - donating equipment for permanent installation so all crews will learn the same formality of communication.
    - communication to all analog habitats on this planet, as if, they are on the other planet.

    If you have a look-see on, you'll note limited the technology is
    at their Analog Stations, of Hanksville, UT, and FMARS of Devon Is. Canadian Reaches.

    THESE TECHNIQUES and the Equipment needed... MUST be used in both the
    practice and off-world environments of the planets Mars.
    THIS, must be put into the habitats on Mars and used for their operations.

    Therefore, this "article" is a call out to hams to take interest in The Mars Society.
    Quite simple, really.
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    The use of amateur radio for MARS colony simulation is inappropriate and violates the scope of amateur radio in Part 97.

    Any colony or mission simulations conducted by organizations profit or non-profit clearly require FCC licenses and certificated equipment.

    Amateurs might provide assistance and advice, but no business should be conducted on amateur frequencies or with amateur equipment. On the other hand, hams don't have any unique experience or insight to this subject. All the activities required for Mars exploration are common to both commercial, military and NASA operations and equipment.
  5. KA9JSV

    KA9JSV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep... right on time...
    There's always going to be an administrative supremacist who will intervene
    just for the sake of acclaiming a righteous high ground.

    However, but, comma.... being off-world, more than 200 million miles away....
    any and every scrap of spectrum better be used for the sake of human-communications
    where a life depends on it.

    This IS NOT about "conducting business"... this is a "thought consideration" of what
    a learned & licensed amateur operator would use
    , for communications on another
    planet. An harsh environment that challenges every moment of survival.
    The human being is worth just a little bit more than a precious paper.

    And... the nasa peeples are not the final authority.
    You might want to google up: National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

    Any derisive "comments upon comments" automatically defaces what Bill Pasternak stood for.
    And I quote him... "Amateur Radio Belongs In Space".

    I can not believe that social media dictates amateur radio's mentality for pioneering outward.
    We're talking about communications between two planets....not one little nation's prerogatives.
  6. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    That 'one little nation' has a philosophy that empowered a species to travel to another world.

    It sure as heck empowered me! Otherwise I would probably be sifting dirt on a shtetel...dreaming of'America'.

    I, for one, am not interested, nor preparing to, write... it.... off...

    Stewart Nozette had 'one world' aspirations. Now he's in Federal prison for espionage. Look him up. I was his best friend in grad school. I made a clean break from his sociopathic one-world idiom.

    Ain't 'one world' my friend. Only to non- sentient molecules.

    I ain't payin' for others playin'...

    Its fatuous and insulting to draw the late Bill Pasternak into this. Don't put words in his mouth.

    God Bless America:)

    Chip W1YW
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  7. W5WAY

    W5WAY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hmm... New entity? Worked All Planets award for a single confirmed contact w/ a Mars station?
    The ~ 45 minute exchange round trip would be a booger bear, though.
  8. W7UUU

    W7UUU Principal Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    No need for QSK :rolleyes:

    KA0HCP likes this.
  9. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah. Why bother with regulations and laws. Screw the FCC and Part 97.


    Yes it is. You proposed using amateur radio for base simulations here on earth.

    You might want to look up NTIA. NASA is not authorized to use amateur frequency allocations or equipment.

    I see nothing new or novel needed for communication on Mars or the Moon. Voice, data transmissions are well understood now. Hams have little to teach NASA/Industry/Military.

    Of note, one paper published about two years ago indicates that Mars has enough of an ionosphere to support HF communications on the lower frequencies (around 4Mhz and lower if I recall correctly).

    Interplanetary communications for hams requires UHF and above and big directional antennas.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  10. KA9JSV

    KA9JSV Ham Member QRZ Page

    You folks are great... thank you..

    But, do ponder on it for a few moments...
    We have all these modes, freqs, and methods in digital comms.

    The notion was to peak interests and increase the numbers of
    future hams against the depressing onslaught of the internet.

    I will give the internet some reverence to resources of designs, circuits,
    software, SDRs',

    Any "simulations for Mars" can be requested for an interim usage.
    Anything is possible.
    Most evolutions can be carried out within 1 watt of power.

    Thank you for your input... all of you.

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