The IPNSIG (InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group) has been a Chapter of the Internet Society since February 2014. We are pleased to announce that we recently created a blog dedicated to everyone interested in IPN and DTN, and computer networking in general. It is a first step in providing nonspecialists with easy-to-understand explanations of what IPN is and how it works. Each week, we will post news about the exciting world of IPN, summaries of academic research, or links to IPN in the mainstream media. We’ll also be announcing upcoming IPNSIG events and activities.
We aim to realize a functional and scalable system of interplanetary data communications before the year 2020. We will accomplish this objective by engaging the public’s interest in funding and executing the research and technology development necessary to make InterPlanetary Networking (IPN) a reality. We will educate them about the critical need for a reliable, scalable space data network to enable cost-effective exploration and eventual commercial use of the inner solar system. We will excite them about the potential role these same network systems technologies can play in solving communication problems here on earth.
What is IPN?
It is a solution to the constrained network environment present in space data communications and, more generally, in the emerging Internet of Things.
TCP/IP, the core technology running today’s Internet, assumes essentially instantaneous, continuous end-to-end connectivity, and fails when it encounters delay or disruption of any significant length (about 4 seconds). However, delays and disruptions are inherent in data communications at interplanetary distances, with the shortest Round Trip Time (RTT) for a radio signal to travel to Mars and back being about 7 minutes. Other factors contribute to the network constraints existing in interplanetary communications, but delay is the most significant factor making existing Internet protocols impractical for use.
While igniting public interest, the INPSIG will engage with those researching and developing the technologies and the standards that are advancing interplanetary exploration by advancing Interplanetary Networking. We will investigate commercial use of IPN technologies (most specifically, DTN).
What is DTN?
Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) is an approach to computer network architecture that seeks to address the technical issues in heterogeneous networks that may lack continuous network connectivity. Examples of such networks are those operating in mobile or extreme terrestrial environments, or planned networks in space.
The IPNSIG membership is international and interdisciplinary in scope. We continue to engage in a number of research, public education, and academic outreach initiatives.
We are all about realizing the dream of interplanetary exploration. Effective space data communications systems are critical to that make that effort succeed – just as important as the spacecraft that deliver the instruments or humans into space.
This article is a product of Scott Burleigh (NASA/JPL); Jay Wyatt (NASA/JPL); Keith Scott (Mitre Corp./CCSDS) and Mike Snell (IPNSIG)