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Disruption Tolerant NetworkingInternetISS

Meet DTN - An Internet For Entire Solar System or An "Interplanetary Internet"

The nearly-20 year old International Space Station (ISS) is finally gearing up to get an upgrade, all thanks to the large volume of investments and great innovations that space exploration is drawing in nowadays.

The upgrade is a new technology DTN, or Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, which has now been installed in the station. The DTN has been specially designed to form the foundation of an internet-style network that will span through the whole (or a majority of the whole) of our cosmic neighborhood.

The technology is basically aimed at providing Internet to the whole of Solar System in the near future. Yes, Internet for the whole Solar System! You read that right.

Traditionally, Internet protocols dictate that all the nodes present in the path of transmission are available during the same time period. But that is not the case when it comes to DTN technology. The DTN functions by making available automatic and highly reliable “store and forward” data network that has the task of storing partial bundles of data in nodes along a communication path. This needs to be done until the parts can either be re-transmitted or forwarded, and then finally be re-bundled at the last stop/destination.

These final destinations where the part are re-bundled could include anything from manned colonies, robotic spacecraft in deep space to ground stations on planet Earth.

This ends up making the resultant network very strong and resilient; to the extent that the message would still be received, even if the communications path was being blocked by planets.

According to NASA, DTN's addition to International Space Station's Resource Kit makes the satellite the first piece of the puzzle that might eventually end up making Solar System-scale internet, a reality.

In fact, the DTN can also be used in disaster-prone areas on the Earth, as the technology is capable of withstanding the unreliable conditions of the space, which is almost similar to the conditions in the disaster-prone places.

A number of DTN implementations are made publicly available as open-source code, in an effort to make the protocols more acceptable and used.

According to a statement by Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, a visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory behind DTN, “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."

With the first step already taken, we're sure the coming days would get to see Solar System-wide Internet becoming a reality.

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