|By the time astronauts make humanity’s next giant leap, they may well be getting their e-mail via a dot-space address.
Alan Boyle, Interplanetary Internet Passes Test
Today, NASA’s information superhighway to outer space flows through one major gateway – the Deep Space Network – to a host of space probes, scattered all the way out from Earth orbit to the edge of the solar system. As those probes proliferate, the Deep Space Network has to keep up with an increasingly complex communications schedule.
The new protocol developed by NASA to deal with complex communication scheduling is called Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN). It’s sort of works like TCP/IP, but it doesn’t assume there will be a continuous end-to-end connection. If a destination path can’t be found, the data packets aren’t discarded. Instead, each network node keeps the information until it can communicate safely with another node. It’s called a store-and-forward system.