You Thought You Had Lag Problems?
It should come as no shock that TCP/IP doesn’t work over interplanetary distances, but unfortunately JPL did think they might be able to handle it. As it turned out even 28KB/s wasn’t doable without overheating equipment and endangering it. In order to mitigate this issue their engineer developed some store and send software protocols to allow the Mars Rover to send data to the spacecraft orbiting Mars which then forwarded that data on to Earth’s deep space network when the planets aligned. Considering the many pictures and tweets from Mars, this was an effective stopgap solution.
Enter Vint Cerf, who was not satisfied with an ad hoc solution and started working on an official protocol to be able to send data back and forth across the solar system. Recently he and his team announced a disruption/delay-tolerant networking protocol which is designed to make use of nodes that can also store information, instead of just routing it. This is incredibly important as there will not always be direct line of sight between planets nor orbiters and being able to store and delay transmission for a proper alignment is very important. When you consider the time it takes a signal to get from Mars to Earth ranges from 3-22 minutes depending on a variety of factors, timing is incredibly important.
Check out Slashdot and follow the links to an interview with Vint Cerf about the development of this new out of this word internet protocol.
TCP/IP doesn't work at interplanetary distances," 77-year-old Vinton Cerf tells Quanta magazine. "So we designed a set of protocols that do." Specifically, bundle protocols: a disruption/delay-tolerant networking (DTN) protocol with nodes that can also store information.