Nasa tests interplanetary internet

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Nasa tests interplanetary internet

Nasa has announced that it has successfully tested what it calls its “Interplanetary Internet,” a communications system for use in space.

The communications system has been devised by and Vint Cerf over the last ten years in association with Nasa scientists. In its first test it successfully carried data between the earth and a satellite 20 million miles from Earth.

"This is the first step in creating a totally new space communications capability, an interplanetary Internet," said Adrian Hooke, team lead and manager of space-networking architecture, technology and standards at Nasa Headquarters in Washington.

The system uses Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN) to overcome the difficulties of transporting data across huge distances, which is similar to the internet’s methodology in that it uses distributed nodes to pass on data..

Unlike TCP/IP however, which assumes a constant connection at either end of the communications channel, DTN nodes store the data if the recipient can’t be reached, or pass it on to a node which can.

"There are 10 nodes on this early interplanetary network," said Scott Burleigh of JPL, lead software-engineer for the demonstrations.

"One is the Epoxi spacecraft itself and the other nine, which are on the ground at JPL, simulate Mars landers, orbiters and ground mission-operations centers."

The tests are now being rolled out to the International Space Station and will be used in future missions to coordinate communications between probes around other planets.

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