Canadians keep arm in America's space program

By EXN Staff
Canadian technology allows Pathfinder and Sojourner to communicate No American-sponsored space venture would be quite the same without some participation from Canadians, and the Mars Pathfinder mission is no exception.

Dataradio Inc., a Montreal-based high-tech firm is responsible for clear communications between the Sojourner rover and the Mars lander. Dataradio, a firm with about 50 employees, designed the two-way radiomodem link that helps the two vehicles talk to each other. The job of actually building the units went to Motorola's Paging Products Division.

According to the firm's marketing manager, Allan Mendelsohn, NASA conducted intensive research to determine the right modems for the job, and was pleased by the performance of Dataradio's product.

The link, which transmits data at a rate of 9600 bits per second, allows the lander to dispatch commands to Sojourner after they have been sent from Earth on a microwave connection. Dataradio's modems are also responsible for transmitting the dazzling photos of the red planet back to Earth. The modems are also used in police cars, allowing officers to check a driver's license on the spot.

According to Mendelsohn, the 18-year old firm, which also has an office in Atlanta, Georgia, is responsible for founding "the principles of sending data by radio."

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