NASA NIAC Study – Petabits of Planetary Survey Data Earth-Mars Cycler

The Solar System Pony Express is a global, multi-spectral, high-resolution planetary surveyor supported by regular visits from a cycler satellite network to retrieve petabits of data for transit to Earth. This is a phase 1 NASA NIAC study.

The “courier” satellites use optical communications to receive 1-3 petabits from the surveyor at least once per year. They then travel close to earth where they can downlink the data quickly. By exploiting cycler orbits, the couriers need minimal onboard propulsion and can operate for decades as an augmentation to the Deep Space Network and a precursor to a Human Exploration logistics network.

Written by Brian Wang,

1 thought on “NASA NIAC Study – Petabits of Planetary Survey Data Earth-Mars Cycler”

  1. What's the advantage of this scheme vs building satellite bridges with radio or laser links? Just the amount of data transferred every cycle?

    They would still need to beam everything down/up while the cycler is around Earth or Mars, at the ends of the cycle.

    And Mars human activities could be soon expected to require petabytes per day. Gee, the flow and caching of audio and video data alone would be tremendous.

    Seems having multiple Earth-Mars laser or radio links through satellites would be more convenient.

Comments are closed.