The wonders of science never cease, and now those fortunate enough to view our planet from space may be able to upload their best photos to social media right away or transmit essential data between worlds.
Not Your Typical Internet
The Science Mission Directorate and Human Exploration and Operations are two teams that have been researching tirelessly to make the long-awaited dream of bringing WiFi to space a reality. The solution comes in the form of Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking. This type of internet is similar to what we use in our everyday lives, but instead of dropping data the second a connection goes wrong, the data is guaranteed delivery as soon as communication restores, which will ensure that critical information doesn't get lost with bad connections. This type of transmission also frees up limited memory by not having to retransmit during an interruption.
Cosmic Connection By 2022
Although the idea of the interplanetary internet is not a new one, the first attempt to bring WiFi to Mars was scrapped because of budget constraints in 2009. Now with a new mission called PACE in the works, the DTN will finally have a chance to shine. The Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud Ocean Ecosystem Mission is set to launch in 2022 and will help scientists study our planet’s oceans, storm patterns and algae blooms. The use of the DTN will pave the way for scientists to have a better understanding of our delicate ecosystem here on Earth.
Lego Cars and Photographs
The DTN has been tested extensively to prepare for this giant leap forward. Once used to send a photo to a station in Antarctica that had a less-than-sufficient internet connection, and drive a Lego car remotely in Germany from the International Space Station, the DTN has proven to be a viable alternative to the standard internet for spotty connections. The 2005 space probe Deep Impact used the DTN to aid in its mission in launching an impactor at a comet.
A Decade of Light Initiative
With the need for faster and more reliable data transmission, the DTN is just one factor of the Decade of Light Initiative, a team made up of NASA’s Near Earth Network, Space Network and Deep Space Network that will aid in bringing internet to interstellar space.