what would a broadcast from the moon in 2006 be like?

andrew markworthy

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My daughter asked me this question the other day after watching a programme on the Apollo 11 TV broadcasts. Namely, what would the sound and picture quality be like if the Moon landing were today? I'm at a total loss to answer her and a search of the web has proved fruitless. My guess is that it would be pretty good (sort of on a par with VHS playback) but definitely not up to HD standards. However, that's simply based on a non-scientific hunch.

Can anyone enlighten me (and my daughter), please?
 

Chu Gai

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Might depend upon the bandwidth and the devices that are used to record the audio/video and then transmit them. Of course, the quality would be vastly improved with audiophile wiring.
 

DaveF

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A good estimate would be: Look at broadcasts from the space shuttle and space station. Also, you might be able to look up current plans for the next gen Mars Lander, currently in development.
 

MarkHastings

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Forgive my ignorance, but is distance a factor in transmission once you get past the Earths atmosphere? Or is the main hurdle strictly the Earths atmosphere?
 

ChristopherDAC

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At the time, bandwidth for the transmission was limited to about 1.5 MHz, so they had to use a television format with a reduced number of lines and a lower frame-rate, and perform standards conversion at the ground station. Today, this problem might be solved with digital compression. The result would probably be a clearer picture, but also more glitches in the picture (freezing, pixelation, &c. due to noise), and some of the kinds of artefacts you associate with Internet streaming video.
 

Chu Gai

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Well if that's a limitation, what about also recroding the event with a high quality digital device? Maybe something like Tom & Pam used?!
 

DaveF

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Power to send the signal is the key obstacle. Even an ideally aimed transmitter with have beam spread with distance. The greater the distance, the more the beam spreads, and the lower the received energy (per detector area). And so , the lower the signal to noise ratio.

You also have to worry about alignment of transmitter and receiver when they're moving independently.

But if you've got the power and the alignment, I don't think there's any difference between one mile and a million miles to limit bandwidth in free-space propogation.
 

Colton

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It would look alot like how it was filmed originally. In a secure studio with lots of Arizona sand ... except in COLOR!


- Colton
 

Joe S.

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Short answer: crystal clear and near instantaneous (about the lag of a cell phone call.)

Longer answer: with the advent of cellular and optic technology, communications with a moon base would be a snap. The way you do it is to break the signal up into phases and have the best tech handle each phase. First, you have a microwave tower on the moon that can pick up anyone's walkie-talkie (or whatever.) This is basically a cell phone tower on the moon base. Then it encodes that signal onto a laser beam and shoots it at the Earth (assuming Earth is in view), or specifically a satellite orbiting Earth. No atmosphere on the moon + none in space is a lossless transfer at the speed of light. The satellite decodes the info, then turns around and microwaves it to the ground (just like a regular cell phone call.) The encoding and the decoding stages take the most amount of time (and handshaking), the laser/microwave transmissions are extremely fast.

So instead of using microwaves all the way, you use localised microwaves on each end and a laser in the long middle stretch from the moon to the earth and vice versa. It would sound as good as a cell phone call (the last microwave stage from the sat to Earth being the part where the signal degrades, laser is totally loseless transmission and moon has no atmosphere!)
 

MarkHastings

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I don't know if you were being sarcastic or not because I thought everyone knew about that.

OT: I was in my car, next to a friend and we were on our phones...I knew there'd be a delay, so as she was looking at me, I started acting like a Godzilla movie (knowing that she wouldn't see my lips match the voice in her phone). She was dying.
 

nolesrule

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I was being sarcastic. Not all cell phone delays are created equal, and if the phones share the same cell, it's not even close to a 1 second delay. 0.5 seconds at worst.

The 1.34 seconds is only the distance from the moon to the earth, so when you add in the towers and satellites, it'll take longer than that.
 

MarkHastings

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Oh man, can you imagine a cell tower on the moon? Would that make them Stell(ar) Phones?


p.s. yes, I know the moon is a lot closer than the stars are.
 

nolesrule

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Nah. I have yet to find a cell phone that is truly stellar, and I doubt taking one to the moon would rectify that.
 

BrianW

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Let me guess: The contractor in charge of obtaining the easement for the cell phone tower might bungle the job and locate the tower on the wrong side of the moon.
 

Ray Chuang

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Thanks to major advances in video camera technology and communications technologies since 1969, we could (in theory) even broadcast 720p high-definition video live from the Moon in 2006. But your estimate of the broadcasts from the International Space Station is probably closest to the truth.
 

Lars Larsen

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I don't understand why NASA doesn't invest more into delivering high quality media transmissions from space. NASA is largely dependant on the general public support for space exploration and here in 2006 we still get static noise on simple audio transmissions. Maybe they should try to correct that, before attempting to build a complex machine that will get us to Mars.
 

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