Since the advent of the new century, internet has become a must have commodity for people all over the world. Heck, it’s even important for people who aren’t on the world.
What we are referring to is the need for proper internet connectivity faced by the astronauts that live on the International Space Station.
Since they have to spend entire months on the station with no possibility of physical contact with the world, internet becomes their only lifeline for contact with human civilization.
The current method of establishing this connections involves using satellites as intermediary nodes to pass data packets between the earth and the station.
However, since the constant orbiting motion of the satellite doesn’t allow it to stick in one place for a long time, it cuts down the usable time for communication by a lot.
To take care of this issue, NASA has developed a new communications system which offers a more reliable form of connection through space.
This new system has been named DTN, which stands for Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking. The tolerance comes from the fact that this communication model allows partial bits of information to be stored in the nodes.
In this manner, the message is split into partial bundles which can be delivered between two points through multiple passes, whenever the nodes are available.
As you can guess, this removes the requirement for the availability of each node in the network. The bundles can therefore be easily combined and reconstructed to decipher the complete message.
This new protocol can thereby significantly bring down the latency as well as enhance bandwidth utilization. The reliability and range of the system is so great that scientists believe that it could potentially cover the entire solar system.
What this means is that we could be looking at the very first steps of what may one day become a system for providing internet connectivity to the entire solar system.
This not only bodes great for regular space travel, but also for long term deep space exploration missions, which are aimed at giving us a better understanding of the universe around us.