Interplanetary Internet demonstrated from the ISS.
Astronaut Sunita Williams recently used a NASA developed laptop on board the International Space Station to control a Lego robot in Germany, demonstrating technology that could one day be used to build an ‘Interplanetary Internet’.
The traditional structure of the Internet has data transmitted using TCP over Internet Protocol (IP), which assumes a continuous path will exist between transmitter and receiver and sends a continuous stream of packetized data. Through space, however, the connection may suffer long time delays and not be so reliable.
To over come this, NASA and the European Space Agency developed ‘Disruption Tolerant Protocol’ (DTN) which transmits data using a ‘Bundle Protocol’ (BP), which is similar to IP. Data transmitted using the newly developed protocols travels hop by hop through routers to a destination, storing bundles of data until the next link becomes reconnected.
NASA hopes the system will one day allow humans on a spacecraft in orbit around Mars to operate robots on the surface, or from Earth using orbiting satellites as relay stations.