The Internet of Things (IoT) is blasting off into space
The Internet of Things (IoT) is blasting off into space. Many companies are researching ways to use satellites to bring IoT everywhere on Earth.
Vendors as well as NASA want to use satellites to provide simple, low power, low cost, IoT friendly networks for users that are outside of areas covered by standard terrestrial networks. The International Space Station has released a Technical and Educational Satellite 5 (TechEdSat 5), a cuboid-shaped device about the size of a fire extinguisher, to an altitude of 250 miles in order to test the feasibility of bringing IoT to space. Thirty minutes after the satellite was launched, the pre-installed radio frequency modules became operational. The modules transmitted orbital data within the satellite every ten seconds. This data included information regarding translational acceleration, angular rate, magnetic field, atmospheric pressure, temperature and strain. This launch will act as a test for wireless communications within a satellite while in orbit. If the test is determined to be successful, this data will be used when building future satellites.
Many of these plans involve using low earth orbit (LEO) satellite systems. LEO satellites orbit between 400 and 1,000 miles above the earth’s surface. Data that is transmitted in LEO is sent from one satellite to another as the satellites generally move in and out of the range of the earth-bound transmitting stations. LEO is ideal for many communication applications because it takes much less energy to place the satellites into LEO and can use less powerful amplifiers for transmission.
Experts believe that IoT will be enabled when these satellites can communicate with each other wirelessly. This would allow future satellites to communicate with each other in a mesh network as well as reduce the weight and increase the payload capacity of traditional satellites. Technology already exists to provide internet access using satellites in geosynchronous orbit, but satellites in LEO offer more advantages as they are less expensive as well as enable lower latency.
The United Nations estimates that almost four billion people around the world are underserved with respect to internet access, a fact that is becoming more problematic as the world grows increasingly dependent on connectivity. If an anywhere-Internet network using LEO could be implemented, we could bring all of the IoT-based technological advancements to the global population.
At SURE Universal, we have created a software defined platform that enables both the interoperability and connectivity of IoT devices. Just like NASA, we are working to make sure everyone has access to IoT-based technologies in a world that is becoming more and more connected.