08 October 2019 - How space is showing the way to future networking technologies

Wi-Fi Trek 2019


Gourav Rai, a 2019 ucisa bursary recipient, attended Wi-Fi Trek 2019 in Nashville as his bursary conference.  His blogs outline some of the key presentations he saw there and what he learnt as a consequence.


Title: Deep Space Network by Laura Chappell
Social Presence: Twitter @LauraChappell
Weblink: https://www.chappell-university.com
Speaker Introduction: Laura Chappell

The keynote speaker for WiFiTrek-2019 was Laura Chappell. Laura is a Wireshark guru and trainer. Wireshark is an open-source packet analyser used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. She is also the founder of Chappell University.

Colour photograph of Laura Chappell on stage presenting the keynote address at Wi-Fi Trek 2019

Fig.1 Laura Chappell presenting keynote address at WiFiTrek-2019

Laura’s keynote presentation focussed around:
1. Data communication challenges in space missions due to the vast distances
2. Solutions used to tackle such challenges for data transmission in modern space probes
3. How similar techniques can be used on Earth’s terrestrial conventional network to make them more efficient and resilient.

Colour photograph of a presentation slide showing the communication path of a Mars probe with Earth's monitoring station

Fig.2 The graphic showing communication path of a Mars probe with Earth’s monitoring station

Laura in her presentation highlighted how the current radio communication technologies deal with the control and communication between Earth’s monitoring stations and the active probes around our solar system and beyond. When these probes are unreachable either when they hide behind planetary shadow zones or due to any other cosmic challenge, they use the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Network (DTN) (https://www.nasa.gov/content/dtn). The DTN provides store and forward data technology with data transmission redundancy to communicate with Earth’s monitoring stations. To handle these long range communication Earth has three deep space monitoring stations located at:

1. Madrid, Spain
2. Goldstone, USA
3. Canberra, Australia

Colour photograph of a presentation slide of a graphic showing the area covered by Earth's montoring stations

Fig.3 The graphic showing the area covered by Earth’s monitoring stations

Colour photograph of a presentation slide showing a map of the locations of Earth's monitoring stations

Fig.4 The graphic showing locations of Earth’s monitoring stations

These stations keep in touch with various space missions and are directly responsible for communicating any data from all active space probes. Communicating from Earth to any spacecraft is a complex challenge, largely due to the extreme distances involved. When data is transmitted and received across millions and even billions of miles, the delay and potential for disruption or loss is significant. Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) is NASA’s solution to reliable internetworking for space missions.[1: https://www.nasa.gov/content/dtn

Colour photograph of a presentation slide showing a graphic showcasing the location of various probes around the solar system
Fig.5 The graphic showcasing location of various probes around our solar system

To check out live monitoring data on various space mission, please check the following link, Jet Propulsion lab (JPL). Furthermore, interesting updates about other such missions can also be located at https://eyes.nasa.gov.

Colour photograph of a presentation slide of a graphic showing NASA Deep Space Network (DSA)

Fig.6 Graphic showing NASA Deep Space Network (DSA)

Lastly, Laura discussed how the DTN technology used in space communication can be implemented on Earth’s terrestrial network to establish “The Next Internet” setup on Earth.

Colour photograph of a presentation of The Next Internet taking place in a lecture theatre

Fig.7 The Next Internet presentation

Laura presented about the change required on current internet protocol stack influenced by the DTN protocol stack. This modification can be utilised to gain signification benefits in terms of resilience and reliability factors for the future terrestrial network’s on Earth. This change can be actioned by using “Bundle Protocol v7”. This protocol along with TCP convergence layer can offer store-and-forward for bundles of fragment and frames and hence improve on the current terrestrial internet protocol (IP) stack.

Colour photographs of presentation slides showing the NASA Deep Space Network (DSA)

Fig.8 Graphic showing NASA Deep Space Network (DSA)

Overall a very interesting session to understand the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Network (DTN) protocol and its influence on future networking technologies.