The rocket scientists at NASA hope to have a communications network ready by 2011 capable of efficiently transferring data between Earth and various probes, rovers, and spacecraft whizzing around the solar system, Discovery News reports. As it turns out, creating an interplanetary Internet is no easy task, even for the brainiacs at NASA.
"The communication delays are huge, and they are variable, because the planets are in orbit around the sun," says Vint Cerf , co-inventor of the Internet's TCP/IP protocol.
On the International Space Station, NASA has been performing tests of network technologies called Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocols. Computer scientists -- including Vint Cerf -- began working on DTN as far back as 1998 as a way to overcome issues in networks that lack continuous network connectivity. Whereas it takes just milliseconds for packets to go from source to destination on Earth, those same packets take at least 8 minutes when traveling from Earth to Mars. Not only that, but packets have to contend with constant motion of celestial bodies.
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