Kepler said it had to establish its own communications network because the research vessel will be well outside the range of traditional high-throughput satellites. The two nanosatellites provide 100x higher data speeds that would not be possible otherwise, Kepler said. With this improved data transfer capability, scientists can share large data files between ship and shore.
“Our Global Data Service provides a cost-effective means to transfer large data volumes that will be gathered over the course of MOSAiC,” said Mina Mitry, CEO at Kepler, in a press release. “Rather than only storing data locally and analyzing once physical storage can be sent back with supply vessels, we are giving scientists the ability to continuously transfer test and housekeeping data sets over our unique LEO satellite network.”
The communication network uses nanosatellites to create the data link between scientists on the research vessel and the team back at home base. Nanosatellites are cheaper than traditional satellites and require six to eight months to build as compared to the years required for traditional satellites.
CubeSats are one type of nanosatellite that measures 10x10x10 centimeters with a mass between 1 and 1.33 kg. Individual units are combined to form larger units. Traditional satellites start at 500 kilograms and go up to more than 1,000 kilograms.
About 600 researchers will be on board during the course of the mission with different groups coming and going throughout the year. A support staff of 300 people will work in the background to make the expedition possible.
The project’s budget is 140 million euros. Nineteen countries are part of the research crew, including Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.