LUNA in a suitcase...

In LUNA, not only the lunar surface is to be depicted very realistically, but also the data paths and formats that will be used in a future moon landing. To this end, work is currently underway on a monitoring and control system (MCS) of the type used in mission control centers: the MCS is the central facility for the flight control team to send commands into space and to receive and display telemetry from space.

 There are separate standards and protocols for communication with spacecraft that are tailored precisely to the specific requirements – one of the points here is the tolerance of delays that are unavoidable at distances of several “light seconds” or even “light minutes”.

One of the most modern protocols here is USLP (Unified Space Link Protocol), which was published by the CCSDS (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems) in 2018. It is capable of transmitting a larger amount of user data than other protocols. This makes USLP a suitable protocol for applications with high data rates and delay-tolerant networks (DTN) and therefore interesting for communication between Earth and the moon.

 The USLP protocol is one of the protocols to be used in LUNA.

 As LUNA will not only contain systems that fulfil such high and modern communication standards, an interface has been built that can also be used to “package” the data of conventional devices, such as those used in the smart home sector, in USLP.

 A test setup, integrated into a suitcase-sized test environment, has now successfully demonstrated how five different Zigbee of-the-shelf sensors  – for motion detection, for temperature and humidity, for opening detection and a manual switch – are read out via various network components and two Raspberry Pis and their measured values are then incorporated into USLP packages so that they can then be displayed by a specially developed MCS based on EGS-CC (European Ground Systems – Common Core).

 The demo is more than just an academic exercise or a student experiment: The MCS for LUNA will not only implement the data and control options for the future moon rover or the spacesuits, but also very mundane things such as the hall lighting, the temperature in LUNA or the status of the laboratory doors. The smart home components are a cost-effective and simple solution for this – and are then accessible to the LUNA operator in just one tool together with “real space data”.