The Interplanetary Internet, Vint Cerf Speaking

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, is working on expanding the 'net into outer space. Cerf has worked with NASA and JPL to develop a new set of protocols that can stand up to the unique environment of space, where orbital mechanics and the speed of light make traditional networking extremely difficult.


(The Internet goes off-planet)

"So we began looking at the possibilities of TCIP/IP as a protocol for interplanetary communication. We figure it worked on Earth and it ought to work on Mars. The real question was, “Would it work between the planets?” And the answer turned out to be, “No.”

"The reason for this is two-fold: First of all, the speed of light is slow relative to distances in the solar system. A one-way radio signal from Earth to Mars takes between three and half and 20 minutes. So round trip time is of course double that. And then there’s the other problem: planetary rotation. If you’re communicating with something on the surface of the planet, it goes out of communication as the planet rotates. It breaks the available communications and you have to wait until the planet rotates back around again. So what we have is variable delay and disruption, and TCP does not do terribly well in those kinds of situations.

"One of the things that the TCP/IP protocols assume is that there isn’t enough memory in each of the routers to hold anything. So if a packet shows up and it’s destined for a place for which you have an available path, but there isn’t enough room, then typically the packet is discarded.

"We developed a new suite of protocols that we called the Bundle protocols, which are kind of like internet packets in the sense that they’re chunks of information. They can be quite big and they basically get sent like bundles of information. We do what’s called storing forward, which is the way all packet switching works. It’s just in this case the interplanetary protocol has the capacity to store quite a bit, and usually for quite a long time before we can get rid of it based on connectivity to the next hop.

This software is already in use in the two orbiters around Mars, as well as the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Science fiction writer (and communications engineer) George O. Smith thought about this problem in the 1940's. His solution? Venus Equilateral Relay Station:

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.

Be sure to read the rest of this fascinating interview with Vint Cerf at Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/9/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'- Isaac Asimov, 1953.

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'- Breuer/Williamson, 1930.

Testing New Spacesuits In 1929 And 2015
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

Space Station Kitchens 1929 and 2015
'Plates and cups ... slowly floated down to the floor and were not broken.'- Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

XM82 Personal Flamethrower Now In Development
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Graphene Cytobot - Cyborg Bacterial Spores May Help Astronauts
'[It] had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system... '

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
Time for fun, Will Robinson!

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'

US Customs Now Doing Facial Recognition At DC Airport
Are you who you say you are?

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'

Coleus LED 'Skylight' Dispenses Natural Sunlight Indoors
'How do they work it so that the sky is visible at every level of the city?'

UR3 Robot At Work On Copies Of Itself
'I don't mean that you should construct this ultra-microrobot with your own fingers, of course...'

3D Printing 'Terminator T-1000-Style'
Not quite 'a mimetic polyalloy...'

Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot
'The repair robots had started out on their rounds...'

Super Ball Bot Tensegrity Robot For Solar System Exploration
'Each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body...'

Norlin Shoe Drone Robot UAV In-Store Delivery Thing
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling.'

iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'

MC10 Electronics Skin Stickers
'Every diaper... a fine copper wire…'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.