Met.expo.2024: Remote Controlling a Mars Rover Using MQTT in the Cloud

As an engineer, the 2015 movie The Martian really sparked my imagination in applying what STEM education taught me for bringing Mark Watney home from the far away red planet. With all the tremendous advances in technologies on the planet Earth in the past decade, from IoT (Internet of Things) to space based internet constellations, from cloud computing to low-latency OTT streaming, I wonder: what could we have done differently nowadays for the rescue mission depicted in the movie?

In this talk, we will highlight two prominent technology trends that are particular relevant to bring Mark home. One such trend is that internet is expanding to the space, and the Internet Society’s Interplanetary Chapter is already laying down some ground rules and best practices. The other tech trend is the explosive growth of IoT devices (of which the Mars Rover is a kind), and the need for these devices to talk to each other, is calling for a more power efficient communication protocol called MQTT (Message Queueing and Telemetry Transfer), as compared to the most popular internet application protocol HTTP. A Mars Rover STEM model kit will be used for a live demo to show how the various technical pieces can work well together.

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