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NASA: Nishant Batra to lead first 4G network on moon.

Nishant Batra to setup first 4G network on moon for NASA

Establishing a 4G/LTE network would have appeared to be much beyond the pay scale of a well known innovation centre like Nokia Bell Labs. Setting up the same system on the moon, on the other hand, is a different thing entirely. NASA has awarded five-year contracts worth over US$ 370 million to Nokia and 13 other businesses, including SpaceX and Lockheed-Martin, to test important infrastructure technologies on the lunar surface. All of this is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to bring people back to the moon.

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NASA wants to use Nokia’s outlook to help offer critical connectivity options for tasks astronauts would need to hold out, like remote control of lunar rovers, real-time route planning, and elevated video streaming. NASA is aiming for a human landing on the moon by 2024 as a follow-up to the legendary 1969 moon-landing mission led by Neil Armstrong.

The moon’s 4G network would not only carry data and voice transmissions similar to those used on Earth, but it will handle operations from afar. Like controlling lunar rovers from afar. For the hostile, radiation-filled lunar environment, antennas and base stations will need to be ruggedized. Furthermore, the internet infrastructure will experience temperature fluctuations of over 250 ° c from sunshine to shadow during a normal lunar day-night cycle (28 earth days). In addition, every piece of components for the networking should be carried to the moon too.

4G on Moon? NASA partners with Nokia's Bell Labs to provide cellular  service on lunar surface

According to Thierry Klein, head of Nokia Bell Labs’ Enterprise & Industrial Automation Lab, the technology requires it to be solidified for environmental stresses such as vibration, shock, and acceleration, specifically all through launch and landing methods, and the extreme conditions encountered in space and on the lunar surface.

Dola Saha, an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Albany, SUNY, noted that the propagation model will be different. She goes on to say that the lack of atmosphere, and also the lack of usual terrestrial impediments like buildings and trees, will result in improved signal transmission. Nokia will partner with Intuitive Machines, which is also building a lunar ice drill for the moon’s south pole, to ship the gear for its lunar 4G connectivity.


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Nishant Batra for NASA

If data are any indication, this operation will be one to remember, as it eventually results in the setting up the first 4G network on the moon along with the first extraterrestrial cellular mobility, which could one day be stretched to connect prospective robotic and human missions in space. And it’s an Indian, born in New Delhi to a middle-class business family, who’s leading the charge to offer mobile connection for NASA’s massive Artemis moon-landing mission.

Nishant Batra, who is located in Espoo, Finland, is the global director of strategy and technology for Nokia, a Euro 22 billion company. He is also in charge of Bell Labs’ technological architecture and research, which has won nine Nobel Prizes and five Turing awards. 

Batra, who was born in 1978 and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications from Devi Ahilya University in Indore, has an MBA from INSEAD business school. He subsequently went on to Southern Methodist University in the United States to acquire a master’s degree in telecommunication services and a master’s degree in computer science. Batra, whose teams are also working on cutting-edge research on the topic of 6G technology, believes the lunar connectivity might be operational this year. The goal is to complete this within the next several months. He can’t offer a precise launch date since it’s a NASA project, but it’ll be a question of months, not years.

In terms of the project’s difficulties, Batra stated that the biggest distinction is that they aren’t employing any specialized communication links. In cis-lunar situations, they now communicate utilizing normal operational technologies. In other words, they are not developing new technologies to establish linkages to the moon. The convenience of a regular network brings up a plethora of options. In terms of technological leaps, they may be able to operate cellular technology in space in the future, which is beyond what is now achievable.

The base station must withstand the harsh lunar environment. It must be toughened. When the temperature drops below – 60 degrees, the base station begins to fade. To make it thrive in such an environment, one must first stabilize the temperature. Similarly, humidity restrictions must be addressed. It is necessary to maintain the proper amount of humidity while protecting the equipment from corrosion.

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In terms of materials, Batra noted that while the typical electronics are the same like those used on Earth, the base station’s architecture is unique. Because there is no obstacle or interference, the base station does not need to be mounted on a tower. While the lunar expedition is the absolute priority, Batra’s team is also focusing on cutting-edge technologies like 6G and the Metaverse, a comprehensive and highly dynamic virtual digital environment. 

According to Batra, India’s engineering and IT expertise is among the greatest in the world, and the country will play a vital role in the development of technological breakthroughs. At the moment, India is performing satisfactory in terms of applied innovation, which focuses on how to get the next product, software, or service out. It would be a dream come true for him if he could do more Bell labs-style work in India, with an emphasis on fundamental rather than applied innovation. Nokia and Bell Labs, he claims, will hire more Indians.

This isn’t Nokia’s Bell Labs’ first space partnership. Telstar 1, the first communications satellite capable of carrying TV signals between Europe and North America, was put into orbit by Bell Labs and NASA in 1962. Arno Penzias and Bob Wilson, future Nobel laureates from Bell Labs, found the cosmic microwave background radiation leftover from the Big Bang in 1964, validating the now-dominant explanation of the universe’s beginnings.



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