Wired Connectivity

Bouncing a LoRa message off the Moon

03 December 2021
This was the first time an RF transceiver was used to bounce a message off the moon, showing just how far LoRa technology can go. Source: Space Lacuna

Space Lacuna, a U.K. space startup, for the first time has bounced a long range (LoRa) message off the Moon using a Dwingeloo, Netherlands, radio telescope.

LoRa is a low power wide-area network that is based on spread spectrum technology and is being used to connect devices for the internet of things (IoT). While the technology is typically used for connecting devices at long distances, going to the Moon and back is something of the extreme.

The signal traveled about 453,824 miles, which the company claims is the furthest distance a LoRa modulated message has ever traveled. Space Lacuna transmitted the signal with a Semtech LR1110 radiofrequency (RF) transceiver chip, amplified to 350 W using a 25-m dish of the telescope. The signal lasted 2.44 seconds before being received by the same chip.

The Semtech chip was used to measure the roundtrip time of the message as well as the frequency offset due to Doppler caused by the motion of the Earth and the Moon. The roundtrip both distance and frequency offset matched with predicted values calculated using NASA’s JPL Horizons ephemeris system.

Space Lacuna used a software defined radio to capture both the transmitted and received signals for further analysis. The Delay-Doppler plot of the received signal showed a radar image of the Moon.

The Dwingeloo radio telescope has been used frequently in amateur radio experiments and often used for Moon bounces but this is the first time it was bounced using a small RF chip. Originally the telescope was used to study the structure of the Milky Way galaxy.

Space Lacuna plans to unveil the entire findings of its Moon bounce at The Things Conference on January 27-28, 2022.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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