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The many paths a message can take through the Internet make that network robust and efficient - and the envy of those whose job it is to design communications schemes for the far-flung spacecraft leaving Earth each year. After more than a decade of development, NASA is in a rush to have a communications network ready by 2011 that can efficiently carry data between Earth and the multiple probes, rovers, orbiters, and spacecraft exploring the solar system - effectively binding them together to form an interplanetary Internet. Tests performed on the International Space Station last May were the second of three try outs of the network's key technologies, called delay tolerant networking, or DTN protocols.
Date of Publication: July 2009