National Research Council Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Communications Team

Warning Information found on this page has been archived and is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. Please visit NRC's new site for the most recent information.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats by contacting us.

Martian Environment and Challenges

Communication will be vital to the Marsville colony. You will need several different types of communication systems. It must be possible to talk to:

  • Others inside the colony.
  • Workers outside the Marsville structure.
  • To Mission Control on Earth.
  • To arriving and departing spacecrafts.

Methods of communication we use on Earth may not work the same way under the conditions of Mars.

Marsville will be a very busy place so clear communication systems will be essential. The communication team will need to co-ordinate, manage and monitor arriving and departing spacecraft, exploration activities on the planet and communications with Earth. Spacecraft from Earth will be bringing supplies, other crew members and equipment. They will need to be given directions to the colony and guided during take-off and landing. The Communications team must provide for communication within the Marsville community, communication to and from Earth and communication to vehicles travelling around and outside the settlement.


Your team is responsible for designing and building a working prototype (model) of a communications system for the Marsville settlement. This system must provide communication within the habitats and the colony, communications to and from Earth and communications with incoming and outgoing spacecraft and land-based vehicles. The design must take the conditions of Mars into account to make sure that is can operate at all times. Some form of backup communication system will also be required.

Use the Team Blog to consult with the other teams. How might you work together with the different teams to design an efficient communication system?

Getting Started

  • Define the requirements of your system.
  • Examine how these are currently met on Earth.
  • Explore the limitations/opportunities of the Martian environment.
  • Gather feedback from other teams and mentors using the Team Blog.
  • Design and construct your working prototype using the requirements listed below.
  • Evaluate the design. Does it provide the greatest good and the least harm to the persons and things affected?
  • View the Communication Tips to learn more.

System Requirements

  • System model must be no larger than 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre.
  • It must include a working component such as an electrical switch to turn a fan on and off or doors that open and close using a simple hydraulic system.
  • Prototype must incorporate at least four Mars facts.
  • Materials used should be as representative as possible of the materials that would be used for the real design.
  • System should work under the conditions of the Martian environment.
  • System should operate with other life-support systems within the colony.

Questions to Ask

  • What different ways do we have for communicating with each other on Earth?
  • What methods work best for short distances and long distances?
  • What are the strong points and weak points for each one?
  • What types of communication will be required within the Marsville community?
  • What kind of communication will be required between Earth and the settlement?
  • What types of Earthly communication systems would work on Mars and which would not? What features might have to be modified?
  • How can methods used by NASA for communicating with astronauts on the Space Shuttle Discovery help in your plans?
  • Which element of communication will be most critical - linking to Earth or linking within the colony? Why?
  • What materials can you use in your designs that would best replicate the materials to be used on Mars?
  • Who could you contact to get further information about your topic?