paper// IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems

Comments on the communication and data problems associated with a Mars trip during a conjunction phase

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The analysis and comments presented in this paper are meant to establish the general communication parameters associated with Martian flyby probes and with lander and manned vehicles. Fundamental data transfer problems are reviewed to define comparisons and trends of tradeoffs for future studies. Selected focal points are based upon the long propagation path length, with inherent time delays, and the high noise produced by the sun. These problems are magnified because large quantities of data must be obtained to satisfy the needs of the scientific community and the curiosity of an interested public. A comparison of two communication systems is provided: the microwave spectrum and the optical spectrum, as represented by the microwaves at 2.3 GHz and the laser at 6328 Å. A method of cost effectiveness or value received from space missions (a criterion of power input for data quantity received) is also presented.