Between my previous post about Planet Labs’ New Zealand remote terminal, and this post about Australian communications satellites winning an communications innovation award, it’d be easy to think something is in the water down under. Like Planet Labs, Australia is using micro satellites, but, for now, they are using the satellites for communications and not imagery. The Australians will be using these satellites as part of something called the Global Sensor Network (video below).
The Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communications satellite network started as an experiment in early 2013 by the Institute for Telecommunications Research at the University of South Australia. The satellites are micro-sats, and it sounds like the University is using them to relay information from one ground terminal to another–possibly from thousands of terminals at a time. It doesn’t sound like simultaneous communications occurs in real-time currently, but perhaps that’s in the offing?
At any rate, this sounds cheaper than Iridium cell-phone communications satellites, which is one of the points of the experiment. It’s definitely cheaper than the multi-million dollar geosynchronous communications satellites. The micro-sats are helping the Australians address the problem of communications for a small population over a large area of the Earth’s surface. And if real-time communications aren’t currently needed, but daily updates and command queues instead–then this looks like it could be really useful to our cousins with funny accents in the southern hemisphere ;-).
They give a few good examples of how this technology could be used in the video. But the beauty of this system is it looks fairly open to many different applications. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.
Here are two DIY Space projects from Make–since I forgot to include one with the Kiwi article yesterday.
An asteroid-mapping drone called Mapperbot: http://makezine.com/2013/08/31/mapperbot-charts-a-simulated-asteroid-at-world-maker-faire/
And, how to send a very expensive 3-D printer into space (these guys did it before NASA–and would you believe for less money?): http://makezine.com/2013/08/17/yelps-dev-team-beats-nasa-sends-first-3d-printer-to-the-edge-of-space/
Video of that below: