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WiFi and Selfies on Mars

One of the “Selfies” taken by the Tianwen-1 Mars Orbiter as it cruised above Mars North pole in December 2021. Image credit: CNSA/PEC

At New Years Eve the Tianwen-1 Mars Orbiter mission team decided to celebrate the new year in a most unique way, releasing the selfies taken by the orbiter as it approached Mars, flying over its North Pole (watch the clip).

These amazing images were taken with a digital camera (not like the one you may have in your pocket!) tethered to the orbiter and communicating with the orbiter using WiFi. The Orbiter was then in charge to send those images back to Earth. As far as I know it is the farther away we have been using WiFi.

I have to say I am impressed by what humankind has been able to achieve in a relatively short period of time. For a quick, but effective, overview of the variety of technologies involved in space communications you may want to take a look at the NASA syntheses on the topic. For a focussed view on the possible use of WiFi in space communications you may take a look at the WiFi Alliance on this topic.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.