A max. satellite communication distance?
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17-08-2015, 12:03 PM
A max. satellite communication distance?
Couldn't find it after a dozen google searches, so out of curiosity, does anyone know if there's a distance limit to satellite communication in space? I know there's a delay, but will satellites not be able to communicate with us after a certain distance?

I say we launch one at the closest habitable planet so people who might exist 1million years from now can get some pictures.

"If you cannot explain it simply, you don't understand it enough" -Albert Einstein
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17-08-2015, 12:09 PM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
Smile

At work.

Fist problem with getting something to what ever may be orbiting Alpha Centaury is..... how do you propose slowing down once you get there?
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17-08-2015, 12:12 PM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
(17-08-2015 12:03 PM)smileXsmileXsmile Wrote:  Couldn't find it after a dozen google searches, so out of curiosity, does anyone know if there's a distance limit to satellite communication in space? I know there's a delay, but will satellites not be able to communicate with us after a certain distance?

I say we launch one at the closest habitable planet so people who might exist 1million years from now can get some pictures.

I think you must mean spacecraft, not satellite. Consider

Voyager 1 is more than 125 A.U. (1.86997338 × 10¹⁰ km) from Earth and we receive signals form it. They are received by the Deep Space Network.

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17-08-2015, 12:14 PM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
By definition, a satellite would not be sent out to space. It's orbit around our earth is what defines it as a satellite, and the distance it can communicate depends more on angles and atmospheric conditions than distance.

Semantics aside, we've already got various space crafts out there sending back pictures. But it would take far more than a million years for anything with modern technology to get us some pictures of the nearest (potentially) habitable planet.

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17-08-2015, 12:22 PM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
Quick estimates put Voyager 1 at 'only' taking 74,000 years (If it were aimer at Proxima) Smile
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17-08-2015, 12:23 PM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
Theoretically about 16 billion light years. That is current distance between comoving objects in the universe where the space between the objects is expanding faster than C. Reality would be something a good bit less than that, but no reason we couldn't receive signals from a satellite orbiting a nearby extrasolar planet if it had a powerful enough transmitter and wasn't in line with a powerful source of interference.

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18-08-2015, 06:59 AM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
I think you'll need to quadrupole the transmission power each time you double the distance in order to maintain the same bandwidth. You'll hit a barrier as to how much energy you can spend and how much data you want to return to earth eventually.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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18-08-2015, 09:50 AM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
Taking the 74,000 years travel time as a fair estimate, just to get to Proxima (and assuming we could slow down enough on arriving there to do useful science, in order to have something worthy of beaming back), what are the odds that we'll develop a faster and more-efficient means of propulsion in the next 74 millennia that will then easily fly past the plodding craft we could launch now, making the present launch a waste of time and money?

And as Hafnof pointed out, the inverse-square law would mean you'd have to invest serious budget into a transmitter that could reach us over that distance, assuming we're still listening in the EM radio bands in 74,000 years, or that the craft can even survive or still be intact enough to power itself/transmit by then.

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18-08-2015, 10:00 AM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
74,000 is just poor old, slow Voyager. Pretty sure Horizons is kind of faster.

See Valkyrei (Ship heginning Avatar) on web site Atomic Rockets for some one's naffy idea for minimum ship, maximum speed. Smile
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18-08-2015, 10:06 AM
RE: A max. satellite communication distance?
If we're not off this rock in a hundred years, or at least mining other planets in significant quantity, resource competition will probably ensure that there won't be anything organized or advanced enough to collect these pictures Tongue

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