Interplanetary Internet - Disruption Tolerant Network

The first node of the interplanetary internet is being tested aboard the International Space Station. This networking technology, called disruption tolerant networking uses a special "store-and-forward" method that distinguishes it from terrestrial systems.

"You need an automated communications technology … to sustain planetary exploration on the scale that NASA and others want to perform over the next decade," said Kevin Gifford, a senior research associate at BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

"DTN enables the transition from a simple point-to-point network, like a walkie-talkie, to a true multimode network like the Internet. Currently, space operations teams must manually schedule each link and generate appropriate commands to specify where the data is to be sent, the time it will be sent and its destination. As the number of spacecraft and links increase and the need to communicate between many space vehicles emerges, these manual operations become increasingly cumbersome and costly."

The idea of improved communication in outer space is one of the pet projects put forward by communications engineer - and science fiction writer - George O. Smith in his 1942 story QRM - Interplanetary. Smith writes extensively about the need for solar system-wide communications.

The Venus Equilateral Relay Station was a modern miracle of engineering if you liked to believe the books. Actually, Venus Equilateral was an asteroid that had been shoved into its orbit about the Sun, forming a practical demonstration of the equilateral triangle solution of the Three Moving Bodies. It was a long cylinder, about three miles in length by about a mile in diameter...

This was the center of Interplanetary Communications. This was the main office. It was the heart of the Solar System's communication line, and as such, it was well manned. Orders for everything emanated from Venus Equilateral.

It is hoped that the interplanetary internet will be used routinely in NASA missions by 2011.

Via National Geographic.

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