The Challenge of Communication in Space

Posted on Tue, September 26, 2017
  • by: Beth Wilson, Educator and Host of STEM in 30
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Imagine that you could not talk to your friends or family for six months. Now, imagine that you are also floating 250 miles above Earth. What are some challenges you might face getting or receiving a message?

Communication is vitally important to astronauts while they are in space. Not only does it allow them to talk to their friends and family back home, it also allows them to communicate with the team of experts on the ground that helps them carry out their mission safely.

Communication in low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station (ISS) orbits, is almost instant. When traveling further into space, communication becomes a bit tricky. The further out you travel in space, the more issues you have with communication. For example, it could take 20 minutes to send or receive a message between Earth and Mars. This time lapse is one of the many challenges engineers face when designing human missions to go to Mars.

You can experience what communication with the ISS is like on September 27 when the STEM in 30 team, along with students from the Washington, DC, metro area, will have a downlink with the International Space Station. We will be talking with NASA astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik live from space at 12:15 pm EST. Join us online or on NASA TV.

Subject: Physical Science | Grade Level: 7-8 |Time: 45 Minutes
PDF iconLesson Plan: Using Waves to Communicate

Don't miss our other videos. Be sure to check out ISS Science, and follow along with the hashtag #ISSScience.

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