1997-07-06 - Re: Hack the Mars rover (fwd)

Header Data

From: Steve Schear <azur@netcom.com>
To: Jim Choate <ravage@ssz.com>
Message Hash: 43d17e2a987e20415c0373b5e9a66c00d069ebc163c802f93c1441097c998a0a
Message ID: <v03102802afe5a9e8f723@[]>
Reply To: <199707061611.LAA18434@einstein.ssz.com>
UTC Datetime: 1997-07-06 20:15:09 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 04:15:09 +0800

Raw message

From: Steve Schear <azur@netcom.com>
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 04:15:09 +0800
To: Jim Choate <ravage@ssz.com>
Subject: Re: Hack the Mars rover (fwd)
In-Reply-To: <199707061611.LAA18434@einstein.ssz.com>
Message-ID: <v03102802afe5a9e8f723@[]>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

>Forwarded message:
>> Date: Sun, 6 Jul 1997 06:43:06 -0400 (edt)
>> From: Ryan Anderson <randerso@ece.eng.wayne.edu>
>> Subject: Re: Hack the Mars rover
>> Somehow, I don't think that's the place to mount an attempt to take it
>> over.  The prohibitive cost of getting an antenna into space where you can
>> counter some of the effects of Earth's spin and keep the damn rover in
>> contact all the time would be the biggest problem.
>The place to attack is the up-link. This requires physical access (ie a van
>with a dish and xmtr.) as well as a means to crack the encryption on the
>control channels. At least one French satellite has been cracked and
>de-orbited via a network attack.
>> Besides, how much encryption is needed between two points if intercepting
>> the traffic is expensive, the communications protocol is undocumented (as
>> far as anyone outside NASA is concerned), and the actual frequency is also
>> hard to find?
>The communications are not only documented but easily observable with the
>correct commercialy available equipment. The frequencies are a matter of
>public record, I would further bet that 5 minutes with a search engine would
>bring that data to light...

The place to hack any deep-space mission is at its terminus.  Even with the
incredible receiveing equipment at each of the controlling earth stations
(e.g., Goldstone off of I395 between Barstow and Mammoth Lakes, CA) the
link margin, that is the minimum required signal/noise vs. actual for the
specified bit rate, can't be too healthy.  The antennas are huge, very
directional, parabolic dishes, but even the best have a bit of side-lobe
receiption (that's why they're located in remote areas, usualy surrounded
by hills).  One can exploit these side-lobe to jam in inbound signal.

Depending upon the transmission/modulation scheme, only a simple,
low-powered, transmitter with line-of-sight to the parabolic dish could
overwhelm the Rover signal.  Getting such a 'shot' at the antenna might be
difficult from the ground.


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