Apollo 17 landing site to be visited using 4G technology

March 23, 2018
by Mark Ollig

July 20, 2019, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.

Some of us recall watching on our television sets, the ghost-like image of astronaut Neil Armstrong as he descended the Lunar Module (LM) ladder; touching his boot on the lunar soil in one small step, and then taking a giant leap onto the moon’s surface for all humankind.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s Aerospace Division developed and manufactured the Apollo Lunar Television Camera used on Apollo 11.

This camera operated under extreme lunar temperature variations; +250 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and -300 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The lunar camera needed to function while experiencing various space/moon environmental pressures, the lack of an oxygen atmosphere, meteoroid storming, particle radiation; and of course, moon dust.

The lunar camera’s resolution of 10 fps (frames per second) 320 line scan, was selected because, in 1969, most homes TV’s received a 30 fps 525-line scan and could reproduce the 320 lines and still provide a satisfactory picture of Neil and Buzz Aldrin hopping around on the moon’s surface.

“Molecular integrated devices” made up 80 percent of the lunar camera’s solid-state circuitry.

The camera operated using filtered +6VDC and +8VDC supplied by the Inverter and Line Regulator’s variable power input circuitry.

The Apollo 11 lunar television camera also used technology not publicly known about in 1969.

The fiber-optic technology in the lunar television camera was considered “CLASSIFIED CONFIDENTIAL” in NASA’s “Lunar Television Camera Pre-installation Acceptance (PIA) Test Plan” document 28-105, dated March 12, 1968.

The Apollo 11 LM lunar surface camera was stowed inside a storage compartment on the descent stage of the LM called Eagle.

Once the camera was removed and activated, it transmitted live video images via a radio antenna on the Eagle, to tracking stations in Australia and California, 250,000 miles away.

To this day, the original lunar television camera remains on the surface of the moon, in the Sea of Tranquility, within the Apollo 11 landing site.

But I digress back to today’s topic.

We can get excited about the moon, again.

Brand-new, HD (High Definition) video cameras will be sent to the moon’s surface using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2019.

Plans call for two Audi Lunar Quattro moon rovers, equipped with HD cameras, to link up with a new 4G moon network, as part of the lunar video communications base station developed by Nokia Bell Labs.

A “space-grade network” will be operating on the moon using 4G technology by Vodafone and Nokia.

The new moon-based 4G broadband cellular network “is highly energy-efficient, compared to analog radio,” stated Vodafone.

5G technology is yet to be standardized and thus was not considered at this time.

Vodafone says its 4G broadband lunar network will provide live-streaming HD video from the surface of the moon to a global audience watching here on Earth.

Audi Lunar Quattro moon rovers HD cameras will be studying close-up, the lunar rover vehicle used during the December 1972, Apollo 17 moon-landing mission; which was the last time humans walked on the moon.

NASA used lunar rovers during the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions.

What an exciting experience it will be for us to watch the live video feed from the Audi lunar rovers HD cameras, as they approach the Apollo 17 landing site.

We will see, in High Definition video, Apollo 17’s battery-powered, four-wheeled, 463-pound Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), as it rests in the Taurus-Littrow Valley highlands.

“Vodafone testing indicates that the base station should be able to broadcast 4G using the 1800 MHz frequency band and send back the first-ever live HD video feed of the Moon’s surface,” read a statement released by Nokia.

The base station will transmit 4G over the 1800 MHz frequency band, and send back the first live HD video feed from the Moon’s surface.

The video, broadcast to Earth via a deep-space data link, will no doubt be widely viewed on various media venues and internet websites.

Images of the Apollo 17 landing site were photographed in 2011, by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite, which took low-altitude, Narrow-Angle Camera images.

On one LRO Apollo 17 landing site photo, we can easily see astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt’s footpath trails in the lunar soil to the left of the LM (Challenger) descent stage.

The LRO photo also shows the US flag, the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), and the lunar rover’s final resting place; just east of the LM, as well as the wheel tracks it created on the lunar surface.

I have wondered what it would be like to revisit, close up, an Apollo moon landing site after all these years; hopefully, the Audi moon rovers will not bump into the Apollo 17 lunar rover, flag, or LM descent stage.

Next year, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, along with seeing the up-close, high-definition, live video feed of the landing site and lunar rover from the last Apollo moon mission.

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