Wireless sensor networks: The quest for planetary field sensing

Elena Gaura, R. M. Newman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The paper presents a thought experiment as to the feasibility of using large scale wireless sensor networks as a vehicle for high level scientific investigation. The discussion is framed by a demanding scenario, that of planetary exploration, and the assessment of feasibility is driven by the available micromachining technologies and recent advances in the areas of ad-hoc networking, communications and intelligent sensing. Following discussion on the development of the mission, the next question addressed is if and how MEMS and VLSI technologies could be integrated to provide a self-contained space probe, 40mm in length. A sensor payload is proposed, which includes means of seismic, chemical, temperature and visual exploration. The power and communications systems are also discussed, based on the needs of a mission profile which provides no special 'base station' nodes on the planet's surface, requiring each sensor package to be capable of information extraction, in-network collaboration and communication with an orbiting satellite. The outcome of the thought experiment described is a positive assertion of feasibility for the sensor node hardware, given current levels of MEMS and VLSI technologies. With respect to the wireless ad-hoc networking aspects of the proposed deployment, pointers are given to the issues which are still necessitating research work, mainly from the computer sciences community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2006 31st IEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks
EditorsE Elmallah, K Christensen, M Frank
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)1424404193
ISBN (Print)9781424404186, 1424404185
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
Event31st Annual IEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks - Tampa
Duration: 14 Nov 200616 Nov 2006

Publication series

NameConference on Local Computer Networks
ISSN (Print)0742-1303


Conference31st Annual IEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks


  • distributed computation
  • information extraction
  • intelligent sensing
  • MEMS sensors
  • wireless sensor networks


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