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NASA To Install Solar System-Wide Internet On The ISS

NASA took a major step toward creating a Solar System Internet by establishing operational Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service on the International Space Station.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

NASA is on a mission to improve communications between travelers in space and on Earth and is one step closer to doing so now that it has installed the first deployment of a new technology at the International Space Station (ISS).

The new system, called Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN), aims to provide uninterrupted connections between people in space and on the planet for not-so-distant space exploration. Basically, it’s internet – for the whole solar system.

The DTN’s installation is being celebrated because it works differently to Earth’s wireless. For example, when an internet signal on this planet is blocked, the connection slows or is disrupted completely. In the past, this prevented the ISS from sending transmissions as large objects – such as planets, other space crafts, and radiation waves – made the signal low. In effect, data was sometimes lost during transmissions. With a solar system-wide internet, however, the network can function even when a recipient server is offline.

As you may have heard, the government organization aims to recruit farmers, teachers, surveyors, and technicians to explore Mars by 2030. Undoubtedly, having solar system-wide internet will assist in that endeavor.

Futurism relays that NASA has been testing the technology for years and installed it early June 2016. An added bonus to the technology, reports NASA, is that the DTN will enhance mission support applications, including operational file transfers.

Said Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who helped make the DTN’s installation on the Telescience Resource Kit possible:

“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.” 

Scientists are already brainstorming on how a solar system-wide internet might be utilized in the future to connect ground stations on Earth, robotic space crafts deep in space, or even manned colonies on other planets. The potential is endless!

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