Space Dust Data - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Space Dust Data

Wireless technologies have made it possible to surf the Internet from your back yard and beam infrared signals from palm to palm. But amazing as they are, a technology that uses space debris as a natural satellite may leave them all in the dust.

Each day, Earth is bombarded by more than 50 tons of rock and dust that burn up in the atmosphere and leave long trails of gas across the sky. In the 1930s, amateur radio operators discovered they could bounce signals off these trails, and in the 1950s, the U.S. government started using the technique for military applications. Now, a company called StarCom LLC is using it to offer a reliable and inexpensive wireless network.

The system works when a ground antenna points its signal at a particular segment of the sky, like a racquetball player aiming a shot, knowing that the reflection will land in a specific area. As soon as a meteor passes through the atmosphere at that point--usually within a few seconds, but in two minutes at the most--the signal gets bounced back to the ground and received. The recipient then uses the same meteor to bounce an acknowledgment back to the ground station, which transmits the entire message.

Since the messages are sent as compressed packets of data, they take less than a tenth of a second to transmit, and the entire process usually can be completed within a gas trail's half-second average lifetime. This requires that the messages be kept short, usually 50 to 100 characters. "We don't do any voice transmission," says StarCom president Steven J. Becker. The technology is best used in applications such as tracking vehicles or monitoring remote instruments, he says.

StarCom is the only company that has the technology, says Becker, and it lets StarCom offer an alternative to radio or wire-based systems at half the cost. He says StarCom will have complete geographic coverage of the United States within the next 18 months and expects huge demand. "We're actually trying not to get too much press," he says. "When people hear about it, they start calling us all the time." v

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll