Enhance Artemis with Communication and Navigation Interoperability

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Together with Artemis, NASA will establish a long-term presence on the Moon, enabling more exploration of the Moon than ever before. This growth in lunar activity requires new, more robust communications, navigation, and networking capabilities. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program has developed the LunaNet architecture to meet these needs.

LunaNet leverages innovative network technologies, standards, and extensible frameworks to quickly extend Moon’s network capabilities. This framework enables industry, academia, and international partners to build and operate LunaNet nodes with NASA. These nodes provide missions with four different services: networking, navigation, detection and information, and wireless / optical science services.


Normally, when a mission is launched into space, communication to Earth relies on pre-scheduled links using either space relays or terrestrial antennas. Relying on pre-scheduled links can limit communication opportunities and efficiency, as multiple missions are heading towards the moon. LunaNet offers a network approach similar to the Internet on Earth. With this approach, users stay connected to larger networks and do not need to schedule data transfers in advance.

LunaNet’s core network framework is Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTN), which ensures that data flows seamlessly through the network and reaches its final destination despite potential signal interruptions. In the event of a failure between two LunaNet nodes, DTN allows the node to store data until the path is clear.


For lunar navigation, the LunaNet approach provides operational independence from data processing on Earth while maintaining high accuracy. This architecture provides the mission with access to the key measurements needed to operate the onboard orbiting and guidance system, or to position the surface. Missions that use the LunaNet navigation service have everything you need for autonomous navigation on the moon.

“LunaNet offers a new paradigm of earth-independent navigation, enabling crew and robot missions to quickly and accurately determine their locations and transfer them to planning systems,” Mission Engineering and Cheryl Gramling, Associate Chief of Systems Analysis Technology, said. Split.

An overview video of LunaNet. Credit: NASA / Reese Patillo

Detection and information

LunaNet Discovery and Information Services provides users with alerts and other important information. This and similar features greatly improve situational awareness of astronauts, rover, and other assets. Moon surface..

As an example, LunaNet alerts users directly using space weather meters that detect potentially dangerous solar activity, rather than waiting for instructions from network administrators on Earth. These alerts are similar to what humans get on their smartphones due to dangerous weather.

LunaNet’s detection and information services also include the lunar search and rescue function, LunaSAR. LunaSAR leverages the expertise of NASA’s search and rescue office, which has long developed technology for search and rescue on the ground.

“Astronaut safety and well-being are important concerns of the Artemis program,” said Cody Kelly, mission manager of the National Search and Rescue Office. “Using LunaNet’s navigation services, LunaSAR provides location data to NASA’s distress beacon in the event of an unforeseen event.”

Science services

LunaNet Scientific Services provides nodes with the opportunity to perform measurements for the benefit of researchers on Earth using wireless and infrared optical communication links. The network of nodes may provide baseline observations of the Moon, frequent measurement opportunities that provide a comprehensive study of the Moon’s environment over time. In addition, node placement allows for regional or global observations of the Moon, giving scientists access to Moon data on a large spatial scale.

LunaNet antennas can also be used in applications such as radio astronomy. In radio astronomy, an antenna looks deep into the universe and looks for radio radiation from distant celestial bodies. These features provide scientists with a new platform for testing new theories about space science and advancing their scientific knowledge.

LunaNet: Enhanced Artemis with communication and navigation interoperability

LunaNet DTN concept graphic. Credit: NASA / Reese Patillo

Lunanet interoperability specifications

Last month, the LunaNet team published a draft of the interoperability specification as a starting point for technical discussions among industry and government experts around the world. The goal is a set of standards that enable an open and evolving collaborative monthly communication and navigation architecture.

“Artemis is a collaborative effort that relies on academia, civilian aerospace companies, and the international community, and LunaNet is no exception,” said Jaime Esper, who led the development of the proposed interoperability specification. “Together, we want to define a robust architecture that can meet the widest possible user missions and needs and demands of service providers.”

Lunanet background

LunaNet is a cross-functional team of networking, navigation, science, and systems engineering experts built on previous NASA and international activities at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. I started that life. From this foundation, experts from across government agencies have come together to improve the proposal and develop a draft interoperability standard. LunaNet is currently derived from the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program Office.

“LunaNet is NASA’s Communication navigation “The entire team and scientific exploration community is improving its cutting-edge approach to meet the needs of lunar missions over the next few decades,” said Dave Israel, Goddard’s communications architect.

NASA engineers analyze navigation needs for Artemis lunar missions

Quote: LunaNet: Enhanced Artemis with Communication and Navigation Interoperability (October 7, 2021), https: // 2021 Obtained on October 7th.

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Enhance Artemis with Communication and Navigation Interoperability

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