European scientists bounce first-ever LoRa message off the Moon

24 November 2021 | Saf Malik

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A European team of scientists have bounced a LoRa (long-range) message off of the moon for the first time.

The feat set a new record of 730,360km for the furthest distance a LoRa message has ever travelled and it was the first time a data message was bounced using an off-the-shelf small RF (radio frequency) chip.

For a moment in time, the entire message “PI9CAM” was in space on its way from Earth to the Moon and back and proved that LoRa technology, used for many IoT applications can travel great distances.

Nicolas Sornin, co-inventor of LoRa, said: “This is a fantastic experiment. I had never dreamed that one day a LoRa message would travel all the way to the moon and back. I am impressed by the quality of the data captured.

“This dataset is going to become a classic for radio communications and signal processing students. A big thumbs up to the team and CAMRAS foundation for making this possible.”

The team consisted of some licensed radio amateurs and included Jan van Muijlwijk (CAMRAS), Tammo Jan Dijkema (CAMRAS), Thomas Telkamp (Lacuna Space) and Frank Zeppenfeldt (ESA).

Thomas Telkamp, CTO of Lacuna Space, a global connectivity provider for the Internet of Things, said: “Seeing the message coming back from the Moon was exhilarating.

“From the round-trip time we were able to calculate the distance to the moon, matching very well the predicted values of NASA's JPL Horizons ephemeris system. We even used the echo to see the shape of the moon, which we didn’t imagine we could.”