column nick greenizan

COLUMN: Shoot for the moon, and bring your phone

If we ever colonize the moon, the folks at SFU want us to have great cell service

Though it’s been the premise of many a science-fiction novel and campy 1970s television series, I have some bad news, folks.

We, the people of Earth, may never actually colonize the moon.

But if we ever do, boy are we gonna have some great cell service when we get there.

Earlier this month, Simon Fraser University issued a news release announcing that a team of researchers at the school “are hard at work to make LTE/4G and Wi-Fi communications systems on the moon a reality by 2022.”

To which I say: It’s about damn time.

The lack of quality Wi-Fi, after all, is all that’s kept me from booking that Airbnb on the edge of the Tycho crater.

I know we can’t go anywhere right now due to COVID-19 – and talking about any type of travel at a time like this is cruel irony – but when those travel restrictions are lifted and we are unshackled once again, I think I’m going to book something.

I wasn’t interested before – roaming charges are expensive, after all – but now? Beam me up.

Kidding aside, these researchers have their reasons for wanting to perfect such advanced technology – spoiler alert: it’s not so we can travel there (yet) or so astronauts can play Candy Crush at the International Space Station.

Boiled down, it’s actually pretty simple – they want “better communications infrastructure” for space travel, especially considering the Artemis Project, a U.S.-funded endeavour, aims to return humans to the moon by 2024.

Improved communication technology is never a bad thing of course, although I wonder how good it truly needs to be, considering mission-control has always been able to communicate with those we send into orbit – Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong weren’t launched into the solar system with a tin can and a really long string, after all.

But here we are, 50 years after “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” and we’re still trying to get the static out of the line.

And really, who I am – a guy who passed Physics 11 with a 52 per cent grade and probably couldn’t name the planets in the correct order from the sun – to argue?

But colour me a little surprised at these developments, because it was little more than a year ago that some countries began floating the idea of defunding space exploration, instead leaving such endeavours to private enterprise – to people like Elon Musk who, let’s face it, might already have a plan for Wi-Fi service in galaxies far, far away.

I say this all in jest, of course. These are smart people, doing important work.

It’s also worth pointing out that SFU isn’t above having a little fun with all this, either.

The first line of the news release tells us that much.

“Think getting good cellular service on Earth is hard? Try doing it on the moon or Mars,” it reads.

If you continue reading, there’s a quote – buried near the end, after the parts about “testing interoperability standards” and “5G-forward LTE solutions” – that suggests, perhaps, the true motive behind this space odyssey.

“These technologies will work in space the same exact same way you and I use them on Earth now,” says Stephen Braham, one of the project leads.

Hmm. Maybe these astronauts really do just want float around up there playing Angry Birds till 3 a.m., after all.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter for the Peace Arch News.

ColumnmoonSFUTechnology

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
Fraser Health adds 4 first-come-first-serve vaccination clinics to Surrey

First 1,000 people to show up to receive vaccine

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in South Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

The leadership team at Johnston Heights Secondary is looking to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through the Relay for Life, planned as an online and in-person event (following COVID-19 restrictions) for the week of June 1 to 7.
Pushed back a year, Surrey students well on their way to Relay for Life fundraising goal

Johnston Heights Leadership Team aims to raise $6,500 for Canadian Cancer Society

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his ‘Community Connections’ videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Gwenne Farrell

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
Wildfire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares, BC Fire Service on site

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Most Read