NASA worked with US-based technology company Harris Corporation to design and develop a new reconfigurable, higher-bandwidth radio system.
The radios will be used to create the first space-based global air traffic control system.
For decades, airplanes have relied on radar surveillance via land-based radar stations.
That is left huge gaps, particularly over oceans, where air traffic controllers have no real-time information.
The radios are programmed to receive signals from new airplane transceivers called ADS—B, which automatically send out a flight’s number, location, heading and other details.
NASA’s new space-based radio system can track aircraft in real time across the globe, an advance that could make air travel safer and ensure that flights can be quickly located in case of mishaps.
NASA’s powerful radio communications network allows us to receive data such as pictures of cryovolcanoes on Pluto or tweets from astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
However, to send larger quantities of data back and forth faster, NASA engineers wanted higher-frequency radios that can be reprogrammed from a distance using software updates.