Interplanetary-internet test sends Antarctic selfie to Space Station

A selfie sent from Antarctica to the International Space Station demonstrated an extra-robust communication network that promises to make an interplanetary internet more reliable. NASA announced the achievement on Monday (Nov. 27).

In space, wireless communication networks are critical. They function as a virtual tether, keeping astronauts and spacecraft in contact with Earth and each other. A network failure could leave something, or someone, dangerously cut off from the resources needed to survive. So far, space missions either directly communicate with Earth or go through only a single relay, like an orbiting satellite, making them especially vulnerable to this problem. 

Introducing redundant pathways, in which a signal can get from one point to another in multiple ways, increases the resilience of a system, but this can be difficult to accomplish when a network is still small. What’s more, the spacecraft that make up the network don’t always have a clear view of each other, so a complete, or end-to-end, connection isn’t always available, according to NASA. A traditional network requires an end-to-end path to transmit data. [Dial-Up…

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