Collaborative advantage will unlock new frontiers for connectivity
Connectivity is all about new frontiers.
Whether it’s the Metaverse, smart cities, or the Moon.
Later this year, a NASA mission is aiming to land near the Shackleton crater at the lunar south pole. Temperatures there can drop to -183C, which makes it inhospitable to humans, but it also means that if water ice exists anywhere on the Moon, that’s where it’s likely to be found. And water means longer Moon missions and the possibility of a sustainable human presence on the lunar surface one day.
Nokia is part of NASA’s Tipping Point program, a collaboration with industry to create technology for space missions. This year’s mission will put several assets on the Moon, including a landing module and a rover. Nokia is bringing networking to the Moon to allow the module and rover to talk to each other.
Our technology will allow mission operators to pilot the rover remotely, while streaming real-time video and critical information back to Mission Control. Once it’s complete, the mission will show that cellular technologies can meet the critical communications needs for future space exploration.
None of this will be easy.
The Shackleton crater is at the south pole, and the low angle of the Sun will have a big impact on the operation of the mission. At this latitude, even small boulders can produce very long shadows, casting the rover into shade. If that happens too long, the rover could get so cold that it breaks down. On top of that, the rover also needs to avoid areas without coverage, such as behind a hill or inside a crater.
To account for those factors, Nokia is doing extensive simulations to evaluate the landing site and plan the rover’s routes, so it stays in the sunlight and maintains connectivity.
And that’s just the beginning. Nokia engineers are working with NASA to make sure our electronics can withstand cosmic radiation, lunar dust and the effects of extreme G-forces, especially during the rocket launch.
Despite the challenges, the prize is huge. The first network on the Moon is a vital step toward the future of space exploration and even human life off planet Earth and it will also improve our understanding of how networks can operate in harsh environments anywhere.
Pekka Lundmark, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nokia at the LEAP technology conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 2023
The Metaverse is another frontier closer to home. Or metaverses plural in Nokia’s view: consumer, enterprise and industrial. Consumer will be focused on socializing, gaming and certain commercial services. But the enterprise and industrial metaverses is where game-changing value will be created.
Think of a massive piece of critical infrastructure like an oil refinery, or a nuclear power plant, or a bridge. The enterprise and industrial metaverses will unlock faster and more efficient ways to deliver those projects. And then, once they’re delivered, those same metaverses will make it easier to operate, maintain and improve them.
So, on the Moon, we’re connecting physical spaces that were previously thought to be unconnectable. And in the metaverses, we’re connecting the physical and the digital. Bring those together and you have a vision for what a modern smart city might look like where cutting-edge connectivity and metaverses combine to benefit public services, businesses and communities.
Seamless city-wide connectivity will unlock the scale, efficiency and reliability that you need from critical infrastructure and there will be metaverse applications for sustainability, healthcare, financial services, as well as pretty much every commercial or public environment.
And that leads us to one question.
How do we get there?
If we want to maximize the potential of the metaverses, we need to focus on collaborative advantage. We need to bring the highest possible number of different players into this emerging ecosystem as 5G turns to 5G-Advanced and 6G, and as organizations everywhere learn the power of networking.
That’s how we turn each small step for connectivity into big leaps forward for humanity.
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