Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

The Interplanetary Internet, Vint Cerf Speaking

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, is working on expanding the 'net into outer space. Cerf has worked with NASA and JPL to develop a new set of protocols that can stand up to the unique environment of space, where orbital mechanics and the speed of light make traditional networking extremely difficult.


(The Internet goes off-planet)

"So we began looking at the possibilities of TCIP/IP as a protocol for interplanetary communication. We figure it worked on Earth and it ought to work on Mars. The real question was, “Would it work between the planets?” And the answer turned out to be, “No.”

"The reason for this is two-fold: First of all, the speed of light is slow relative to distances in the solar system. A one-way radio signal from Earth to Mars takes between three and half and 20 minutes. So round trip time is of course double that. And then there’s the other problem: planetary rotation. If you’re communicating with something on the surface of the planet, it goes out of communication as the planet rotates. It breaks the available communications and you have to wait until the planet rotates back around again. So what we have is variable delay and disruption, and TCP does not do terribly well in those kinds of situations.

"One of the things that the TCP/IP protocols assume is that there isn’t enough memory in each of the routers to hold anything. So if a packet shows up and it’s destined for a place for which you have an available path, but there isn’t enough room, then typically the packet is discarded.

"We developed a new suite of protocols that we called the Bundle protocols, which are kind of like internet packets in the sense that they’re chunks of information. They can be quite big and they basically get sent like bundles of information. We do what’s called storing forward, which is the way all packet switching works. It’s just in this case the interplanetary protocol has the capacity to store quite a bit, and usually for quite a long time before we can get rid of it based on connectivity to the next hop.

This software is already in use in the two orbiters around Mars, as well as the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Science fiction writer (and communications engineer) George O. Smith thought about this problem in the 1940's. His solution? Venus Equilateral Relay Station:

The Venus Equilateral Relay Station was a modern miracle of engineering if you liked to believe the books. Actually, Venus Equilateral was an asteroid that had been shoved into its orbit about the Sun, forming a practical demonstration of the equilateral triangle solution of the Three Moving Bodies. It was a long cylinder, about three miles in length by about a mile in diameter...

This was the center of Interplanetary Communications. This was the main office. It was the heart of the Solar System's communication line, and as such, it was well manned. Orders for everything emanated from Venus Equilateral.

Be sure to read the rest of this fascinating interview with Vint Cerf at Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/9/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Is It Time For Lunar Farside Telescopes?
'Mount Ambarzumian Observatory, on Farside.' - Poul Anderson, 1958.

Spaceflight Vertigo Solved By NASA Releasing The Kraken
"I threw up in my helmet."

Lunar Pogo Stick - Retro Technovelgy From 1968
'Lucky touched the leap knob...' - Isaac Asimov, 1954.

Was Jack Williamson's 'Cometeer' Ship Inspired By Halley's Comet?
'Its shape was puzzling - a strangely perfect ellipsoid...' - Jack Williamson, 1936.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

I Didn't Know You Can Already Buy Flesh Putty
'I filled your bullet hole with flesh putty and the lattice.'

'A Sign in Space' Gives Practice In Decoding ET Messages
'... it will be easy to form an alphabet which shall enable us to converse with the inhabitants of the moon.'

Melting Permafrost Endangers Infrastructure
'From the tower's huge octagonal base radiate wide silvery strips...'

EELS Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor For Enceladus
'It was about five feet long... a black bullet head and red camera eyes.'

Lazy Lawyer's Trust In ChatGPT Misplaced
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software...'

Paradromics Implant FDA 'Breakthrough Device'
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted...'

Mice, At Least, Can Sober Up Quickly
'Then draw some aldodote-vitamin pills from the medic.'

Is It Time For Lunar Farside Telescopes?
'Mount Ambarzumian Observatory, on Farside.'

Spaceflight Vertigo Solved By NASA Releasing The Kraken
"I threw up in my helmet."

TM-62 Loitering Ground Landmine
Runaway movie comes to life!

Helpful Robots In Science Fiction
'If you douse me again... I'm donating you to a city college.'

Lunar Pogo Stick - Retro Technovelgy From 1968
'Lucky touched the leap knob...'

MIT And Rice Create Blade Runner Photo Analysis
Rick Deckard, your photo analysis is ready.

SayCan with PaLM - Google's Robot Helper
The older I get, the more interested I am in helpful robots.

Real-Life Mind-Reading With MRI
'So you see, you can hide nothing from me. I am about to know you better than anyone has ever known you.'

Whisper Aero Ultraquiet Electric Aviation
'A white electric plane approached at great speed...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.