Texting from Deep Space - The extreme distances of interplanetary missions combine with the limitation of the speed of light to create some rather laggy conversations. For a mars-bound human crew trying to talk with mission control, response times will be measured in minutes rather than seconds. That can make voice conversations frustrating and inefficient, so NASA conducted a study in order to find a solution. Turns out however, there’s an app for that already: texting.
The first round of tests, conducted in May, was performed in line with NASA’s current procedures. Three 2-hour scenarios—a normal return from a mission to an asteroid, a return with a spacecraft system failure, and a return with an onboard medical emergency—were each simulated with time delays of 1.2 seconds, 50 seconds, and 5 minutes. […] one surprise stood out: The time delay that posed the biggest challenge was not the longest—the 5-minute delay—but the 50-second delay. “Fifty seconds is just long enough, where your expectations of an immediate response are violated, but it’s not so long that it’s blindingly obvious to you that you are going to have to wait,” says Frank. One of the new techniques that proved popular with simulation subjects was to replace voice communications with text-based “chat” sessions.
In retrospect, that answer does seem somewhat obvious …?