NASA built a reconfigurable radios called AppSTAR with the collaboration of Florida-based Harris Corporation.
These radios are capable of tracking air traffic controllers. It can even track planes flying across ocean. AppSTAR radios will be equipped in the satellites. These new radios are capable of transmitting larger amounts of data than NASA’s current radio communications network can.
AppSTAR will prove very helpful for future missions if they could reprogrammed from a distance through software upgrades.
The ability to track all flights let planes fly with less space between them and to take shorter routes to save fuel. They were designed to receive signals from new airplane transceivers called ADS-B. The transceivers automatically send out a flight’s number, location and other details. Harris systems engineer Jeff Anderson says “you can keep track of all the aircraft in the world” within seconds once the radios are operational.
“It tremendously improves public safety and potentially saves a lot of fuel costs, because you no longer have to remain in the particular airline traffic lanes,” Anderson said.