Experience with Delay-Tolerant Networking from orbit

  • W. Ivancic, W. M. Eddy, D. Stewart, L. Wood, J. Northam, C. Jackson
  • International Journal of Satellite Communications and Networking, May 2010, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/sat.966

What is it about?

We describe the first use from space of the Bundle Protocol for Delay-Tolerant Networking (DTN), and lessons learned from experiments made and experience gained with this protocol. The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), is a multiple-satellite Earth-imaging low-Earth-orbit sensor network where recorded image swaths are stored onboard each satellite and later downloaded from the satellite payloads to a ground station. Store-and-forward of images with capture and later download gives each satellite the characteristics of a node in a disruption-tolerant network. Originally developed for the ‘Interplanetary Internet,’ DTNs are now under investigation in an Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) DTN research group (RG), which has developed a ‘bundle’ architecture and protocol. The DMC is technically advanced in its adoption of the Internet Protocol (IP) for its imaging payloads and for satellite command and control, based around reuse of commercial networking and link protocols. These satellites’ use of IP has enabled earlier experiments with the Cisco router in Low Earth Orbit (CLEO) onboard the constellation’s UK-DMC satellite. Earth images are downloaded from the satellites using a custom IP-based high-speed transfer protocol developed by SSTL, Saratoga, which tolerates unusual link environments. Saratoga has been documented in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for wider adoption. We experiment with use of DTNRG bundle concepts onboard the UK-DMC satellite, by examining how Saratoga can be used as a DTN ‘convergence layer’ to carry the DTNRG Bundle Protocol, so that sensor images can be delivered to ground stations and beyond as bundles. Our practical experience with the first successful use of the DTNRG Bundle Protocol in a space environment gives us insights into the design of the Bundle Protocol, and enables us to identify issues that must be addressed before wider deployment of the Bundle Protocol.

Perspectives

Dr Lloyd Wood
University of Surrey

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sat.966

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