Optimal Radio Wave Distance for Interstellar Communication
Due to the world’s current technology in spacecraft and propulsion, it will take several centuries until humanity can travel to our solar system’s nearest star. In response to this, the Deepspace lab, led by Dr. Phil Lubin, proposes a different approach by launching a satellite spacecraft, known as waferSAT, that weigh less than a gram at relativistic speeds. With this in mind, we can one day reach stars that would normally take centuries to reach within the span of a decade. However, the leap between the waferSAT and the design of present satellites is very big, and such we must start by bridging the gap by first creating a satellite between 10-30 grams and test its capabilities within low altitude orbit. In this research, my project is to design a radio communications system that can send data at long distances. We are evaluating two radios, the TI-CC1101 and the SI-4464x, testing their power usage and communications range under their initial settings. We then optimize the more efficient radio by exploring the tradeoff space between its bit rate, power usage, and communication distance. We communicate from the microcontroller to the radio through Serial Peripheral Interface and we program the code using ARM MBED. As a result of this, we hope to apply the same concepts in constructing a free space laser communications system that would allow us to talk with the waferSAT at interstellar distances.