Rover-to-Lander Communications Link Donated by Integrated Microwave Technologies
The Astrobotic Technology lunar expedition will have direct-to-Earth radio links from the lander and the rover, with a rover-to-lander circuit providing a back-up route in case either primary leg fails. Integrated Microwave Technologies (IMT) has provided Astrobotic with two COFDM radios, which will provide high reliability, low power video and data links between the rover and lander. IMT’s radios are the smallest and lightest radios of their kind and are designed for rugged military environments.
Starting later this month, Astrobotic will begin testing the radios for range, power, and transmission quality in lunar-analog operating environments. In addition to field trials, the team will test the radios for thermal and vacuum survivability in the lunar environment.
“The IMT radios enable Astrobotic to achieve greater realism in its rover field trials and to discover whether any of the lunar extremes will be an issue during the expedition,” said Kevin Peterson, director of Astrobotic’s communications development.
The IMT kit included three main parts: an ultra compact VST Transmitter capable of encrypted MPEG-4 video, audio and data backchannel, a VSR diversity Receiver, and a hand held/mobile MCR receiver display with a built in spectrum viewer. The spectrum viewer helps robot integrators and users avoid potentially disruptive radio frequency congestion during a mission or during test to help optimize a robot radio’s real mission success. Packaged code from IMT will allow Astrobotic to software-define the radio’s frequency plans & presets. Associated antennas and a ribbon breakout boards were also provided to streamline the team’s integration.
IMT’s military, aerospace and government group specializes in innovative digital microwave solutions for defense, security and law enforcement applications (www.imt-government.com). IMT is a division of Vitec Group.
The IMT kit's mobile display with spectrum analyzer is in the foreground as (left to right) John Thornton, Kevin Thornton and IMT's Rocco Wall and Steve Shpock discuss the transmitter and receiver units
The three parts of the IMT COFDM microwave digital video/audio/data radio kit are (left to right) the VST transmitter (partially obscured), the MCR display and spectrum analyzer, and the VSR receiver (mounted in a board to hold the connectors).
Astrobotic Technology will integrate the IMT COFDM microwave digital video/audio/radio kit into its robot field and laboratory testing. Left to right: Astrobotic's John Thornton and Steve Huber, IMT's Rocco Wall and Steve Shpock, and Astrobotic's Kevin Peterson.