Friday, June 7, 2013


With all the talk and planning going on for a colony on Mars certain considerations must be made. With the masses of mankind now addicted to texting and shopping on the internet, solving arguments with a quick look up on the internet care of the iPhones and other devices, how will they ever survive without it?

How surprised would you be to find out that internet protocols were designed starting back in the 90’s with interplanetary connections in mind. Consider that communication between Mars & Earth takes between 8-20 minutes. (That’s due to change but we’ll get back to that!) Since IP addresses change constantly, the time delay could result in no answer. There are other issues as well. Connectivity. Disconnections and breaks in communication due to the spin of the planets, solar storms, vast distance and the weather in space and it goes on. TCP/IP is not the protocol to handle all this. But thanks to the forward thinking of Vint Cerf, a different platform was developed that understood these future problems. Working with the Jet Propulsion Lab & NASA, and DTN – Disruption Tolerant Networking was developed. This Bundle Protocol stores information in packets and allows for when communications are severed or delayed due to intermittent connectivity.

DTN and its BP methodology was tested by the ISS Space Station Commander Sunita Williams piloting a LEGO robot in Germany from a perch in low-Earth-orbit.

But would you like to make this whole connectivity even better? Dealt with is the intermittent communications that can be anticipated due to space weather and other just as intermittent occurrences. But NASA can go one better! The LCRD holds the answer.

Communications in space take a giant leap forward when in 2017 NASA launches a laser communication satellite for space. Remember that seven minutes of terror after which we found out Curiosity had successfully landed on MARs? GONE! Space laser communications technology is expected to increase the data rate 10 to 100 times when compared to traditional radio wave technology and yet it will do it with the same mass & power. Connect to the internet, send communications, HD pictures, the sky is the limit!

With NASAs record of redundancy and back-up plans always being in place, it’s safe to say that radio wave technology will co-exist with laser, at least for a while. Light from the laser communications does have its drawbacks: from scatter when it comes to clouds, gases and particulates – something radio waves can handle, or dispersion from a near-by light source (say a star).

When a colony on Mars is started, they get to by-pass the days of dial-up and immediately connect to high-speed internet. Doesn’t seem fair somehow!

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