UHF antenna
Curiosity's UHF antenna on sol 2439

Could Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover communicate with each other via the MRO orbiter ?

And would it have advantages ? (Like: " I just saw a meteorite, and it's coming your way ! " )


1 Answer 1


Yes, they could theoretically communicate with each other over the DSN, however in practice this will not happen (as it has no current uses).

The amount of functions that Curiosity can perform autonomously is very limited and predetermined. It usually involves some sort of deterministic operation such as moving a rover arm or performing a drill sample (addressed in this answer). There is, as far as I could find, no software aboard the rover which is designed to directly alert other nearby rovers or other Mars spacecraft about anything. All communications go through the DSN to Earth, where decisions are made, and then commands are sent back to Mars. Really, there is no need for Curiosity and the 2020 rover to communicate directly. They are so far apart on the surface that they will never interact in physical proximity and wouldn't have anything to say to each other.

As an aside, the 2020 rover will communicate directly with other local spacecraft as it requires this functionality to operate the "Mars Helicopter" which is one of its payloads. It will be equipped with ZigBee comms and use those to relay data.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Via DSN the meteorite message would be too late. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 20:56
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Both curiosity and the 2020 Rover are too slow to dodge anything even if impact were detected months in advance $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've read via your link that communications can also go to Earth via the MRO. So the MRO should be capable to receive from Mars, and then send back to Mars. Isn't it just a matter of software onboard the MRO that could arrange communications with both rovers without the DSN ? $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 22:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh If you think it's possible, why don't you prove it in an answer ? And if you cannot, and you think a specific scenario in a new question would not be considered as a duplicate I certainly would like you to ask that new question. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 13:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Cornelisinspace done! Are NASA (and ESA?) deep space spacecraft now generally able to store and forward messages between themselves? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 13:44

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