NASA Successfully Tests ‘Interplanetary Internet’
Although the crew of the spacecraft Endeavour experienced a glitch in the first space walk when an astronaut accidentally let her tool bag float away, NASA had a lot to celebrate as it announced success with a high-tech space program.
NASA, along with Vinton Cerf, a Google vice president, successfully tested a deep-space network modeled after the Internet. Engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., have transmitted dozens of images to and from the spacecraft located 20 million miles from Earth using disruption-tolerant networking (DTN) software.
DTN, which sends information differently from the TCP/IP protocol used by the Internet, was developed a decade ago by NASA engineers and Cerf, who is known to many as the “father of the Internet” and is a visiting scientist at JPL.
“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 at NASA.
The month-long experiment is the first of many planned tests to qualify the technology for use on future space missions. If NASA continues to succeed with DTN, astronauts on manned missions will be able to communicate with researchers worldwide. NASA is planning its next round of testing next summer, using DTN software on the International Space Station.