NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter communicates telemetry over Zigbee to the NASA’s Perseverance rover. | Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today I learned that the Ingenuity drone copter twirling about on Mars communicates with the Perseverance rover using 900MHz Zigbee radios. Not Wi-Fi, GSM, or something exotic like fission-powered lasers or space algae, but the same consumer tech you use to turn on a Philips Hue lightbulb.

I came across the news via an incredulous tweet from Ben Bromley who discovered it on the Linux Unplugged podcast with guest Tobin Richardson, CEO of the Zigbee Alliance.

According to Richardson, Zibee is the ideal wireless protocol to transfer telemetry data between NASA’s Perseverance rover and the semi-autonomous flying drone. “Looking at really extreme environments, like Mars, it’s good to have a very lightweight purpose-built standard,” said…

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