ANDROMEDA‘s main objective is to provide a turn-key and cost-effective solution for Lunar communication and navigation through a data relay constellation of microsatellites, a user terminal, and a dedicated data collection and distribution centre.
This high-speed and near real-time service is capable of multi-user provision to satisfy the long-term sustainable development of the Lunar market, relying on the utilization of both existing and newly developed technologies to allow a fast development and deployment schedule at lower costs.
The upcoming decade will see a relevant increase in the number of missions targeting the Moon, both scientific and commercial, robotics and crewed, private and institutional. In this context, a reliable, cost-effective and user-friendly communication and navigation infrastructure is a key enabler for new missions. There are areas on the Moon with no line-of-sight coverage (the far side, large portions of the poles, areas shadowed by hills and craters), and even assets with direct visibility to the Earth require large antennas, and power hungry and bulky devices to close the communication link, not to mention the congestion in the bandwidth allocation. An overhead relay satellite can reduce the length of the communication link by a factor of 40, reducing the communication subsystem cost, Size, Weight and Power (SWAP), complexity and increasing its reliability.
ANDROMEDA brings extended global coverage and 24/7 connectivity to users located in strategic areas and in lower orbits. The relay satellites are equipped with a dual K- and S-band communication system, offering near real-time voice, video and data communication between the Earth and the Moon, as well as within the Moon, to assets located on the surface or in Low Lunar Orbit. Besides, ANDROMEDA will provide a navigation service, exploiting two-way radiometric ranging techniques, while a future implementation will allow the users to perform one-way ranging measurements through a more precise time reference and accurate orbit propagation.
As part of this service, Argotec is also developing the ERMES user terminal, a plug-and-play, turn-key equipment to be seamlessly integrated with the user’s asset in a rapid and simple way, thanks to the use of standard mechanical, electrical and data interfaces, enabling communication with the constellation. The terminal is equipped with a dual-band transponder, supported by an electrically steerable antenna and a control unit that handles the communication set-up with the constellation in a way transparent to the user.
The system can achieve data rates up to 100 Mbps in the link from Moon to Earth, thanks to advanced modulation and channel coding techniques based on CCSDS protocols, to maximize the compatibility with the existing and future assets and to provide interoperability with the terrestrial internet network.
Through ANDROMEDA, users will have access to a reliable and performing End-to-End service, which will simplify the design of future lunar missions, reducing costs, and which will make the Moon truly within reach for everybody.