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NASA Tests the Interplanetary Internet

A system designed to make space communications more robust passes its first test.

  • November 26, 2008

A spacecraft 20 million miles away from Earth recently sent the first dozen images back to our planet using a completely new kind of space communications: the Interplanetary Internet.

Credit: NASA

This system is being developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a more robust way to communicate in space; it’s modeled on the terrestrial Internet. The project is being led by Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, who designed many of the networking protocols that launched the Internet in the 1970s. Last month, Cerf talked about the Interplanetary Internet with Technology Review and discussed a crucial protocol called Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN).

NASA will be testing the new communications link for a month or so to qualify the technology for use on a variety of upcoming space missions.

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