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NASA Introduced New Solar System Internet Technology on the ISS

Jun 24, 2016 03:14 AM EDT

The Internet has taken the world by storm since the day it was launched. But NASA is broadening the horizon by introducing a new Solar System Internet Technology on the International Space Station (ISS). 


NASA started its move to create a Solar System Internet by establishing the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service aboard the ISS. The new breed of Internet technology will improve the bandwidth utilization and data return in space station experiments.

To put it simply, DTN will provide a reliable venue for storage and data transfers. With DTN's "store and forward" data network, it can store partial bundles of data in nodes along communication parts until it is forwarded and then re-bundled at the final destination, whether on Earth or in space and potentially in other planets in the future. This is what differs DTN from the normal Earth-borne Internet that requires all nodes to be available during the time frame for a reliable data transmission.

Before DTN, the station is equipped with Telescience Resource Kit (TReK), a software suite for transfer of data between operation centers and the ISS. DTN was added to the existing software suite to enhance its mission support applications and of course, file transfers.

"Our experience with DTN on the space station leads to additional terrestrial applications especially for mobile communications in which connections may be erratic and discontinuous," Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, in an interview with NASA. "In some cases, battery power will be an issue and devices may have to postpone communication until battery charge is adequate. These notions are relevant to the emerging 'Internet of Things," Dr. Cerf added.

NASA worked with various organizations from different fields to be able to mount this project on the ISS, including the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), the Consulative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), according to SpaceRef.

This new technology is expected to greatly hasten the data transfers between the Earth and the ISS, as well as the various man-made modules in space and might also be used for planet-to-planet data transfers in the future.


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