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Signal troubles on Earth? Move to the Moon

Reuters, October 21, 2020 7:00PM Kids News

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Artist's illustration of Artemis astronauts working on the Moon. Picture: NASA media_cameraArtist's illustration of Artemis astronauts working on the Moon. Picture: NASA


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If you or your parents are struggling to get a mobile phone signal at home here on planet Earth, there’s a chance you’ll soon have better luck on the Moon.

Finnish telecommunications company Nokia has been selected by NASA to build the first mobile network on the Moon, the company has confirmed, as the US space agency plans for a future where humans return there and establish lunar settlements.

NASA aims to return humans to the Moon by 2024 and dig in* for a long-term presence there under its Artemis program.

Nokia said the first wireless broadband communications system in space would be built on the lunar surface in late 2022, before humans make it back there.

It will partner with a US-based private spacecraft design company, Intuitive Machines, to deliver the equipment to the Moon on their lunar lander. The network will configure itself and establish a 4G/LTE communications system on the Moon, Nokia said, though the aim would be to eventually switch to 5G, the next generation of communication technology.

The network will give astronauts voice and video communications capabilities*, and allow telemetry* and biometric* data exchange, as well as the remote control of lunar rovers and other robotic devices, according to the company.

Two Australian Trackers media_cameraJohn Saxon and Mike Dinn in the Operations room at Honeysuckle Creek, ACT on July 20, 1969, the day of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. The NASA tracking station at Honeysuckle Creek was an important communications link for the Moon landing. It closed in 1981. Picture: Kym Smith

The network will be designed to withstand the extreme conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in space. It will have to be sent to the Moon in an extremely compact form to meet the size, weight and power constraints of space freight.

Nokia said the network would be using 4G/LTE, in use worldwide for the past decade, instead of the latest 5G technology, because the former had proven reliability. The company would also “pursue space applications of LTE’s successor* technology, 5G”.

VIDEO: Fascinating facts about the Moon


  • dig in: establish a presence
  • capabilities: the ability to do things
  • telemetry: collection of data where the subject is and then transmission back to where they are studied
  • biometric: relating to body measurements of humans (such as heart rate)
  • successor: something that comes after


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  1. In one sentence, what is this story about?
  2. Which country is Nokia based in?
  3. What is the name of NASA’s Moon program?
  4. Describe some things the technology will help astronauts do?
  5. Why does the equipment need to be compact?


1. Ask an Astronaut
Imagine you could call an astronaut who is on the Moon. Write at least five questions that you would ask them. Then write down the answers that you think they might give you.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
Design or describe an app that would be fun and useful for astronauts to use on the Moon.

Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Design and Technologies, Science

Up-Level It
Scan through the article and see if you can locate three words that you consider to be basic, or low level. Words we use all the time and they can be replaced by more sophisticated words, words like good and said are examples of overused words.

Once you have found them, see if you can up-level them. Think of synonyms you could use instead of these basic words, but make sure they still fit into the context of the article.

Re-read the article with your new words.

Did it make it better?

Why/Why not?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you put on the Moon to make living there easier?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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