Analysis of communication rates in the proximity of near-earth asteroids

Evan Nelson, Charles D. Creusere, Thomas Critz, Eric Butcher

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this paper we analyze fundamental local-area communication issues related to proximity operations around near-earth asteroids. We are motivated by NASA's plan to send robotic spacecraft to numerous such asteroids in the coming years in preparation for an eventual manned mission. We consider here the case where multiple probes are deposited on the surface of an asteroid and must communicate the data they collect to each other and to earth by using the orbiting 'mothership' as a relay. With respect to this scenario, we statistically analyze the ability of surface probes in various locations to communicate with the mothership as well as their abilities to network with one another. For the purposes of this analysis, we assume the simplest possible communications scenario: a surface probe can communicate with the mothership only when it has an unobstructed line of sight. At the frequencies of interest here, line of sight is a necessary condition but it is obviously not sufficient-the end-to-end link margins of our communications system must be high enough to support the desired/required data rates. The work presented in this paper extends our previous research in which we only analyzed the the visibility of the locations on the surface of the asteroid. Here, we consider how visibility affects the required communications bandwidth and buffer sizes for both surface-to-spacecraft and surface-to-surface scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the International Telemetering Conference
StatePublished - 2013
EventITC/USA 2013: 49th Annual International Telemetering Conference and Technical Exhibition - Meeting all the Challenges of Telemetry, 2013 - Las Vegas,NV, United States
Duration: Oct 21 2013Oct 24 2013


  • Asteroid surface to space networking
  • NEA missions
  • Space communication networks
  • Space communications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Signal Processing


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