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Initial Characterization of Optical Communications with Disruption-Tolerant Network ProtocolsDisruption-tolerant networks (DTNs) are groups of network assets connected with a suite of communication protocol technologies designed to mitigate the effects of link delay and disruption. Application of DTN protocols to diverse groups of network resources in multiple sub-networks results in an overlay network-of-networks with autonomous data routing capability. In space environments where delay or disruption is expected, performance of this type of architecture (such as an interplanetary internet) can increase with the inclusion of new communications mediums and techniques. Space-based optical communication links are therefore an excellent building block of space DTN architectures. When compared to traditional radio frequency (RF) communications, optical systems can provide extremely power-efficient and high bandwidth links bridging sub-networks. Because optical links are more susceptible to link disruption and experience the same light-speed delays as RF, optical-enabled DTN architectures can lessen potential drawbacks and maintain the benefits of autonomous optical communications over deep space distances. These environment-driven expectations - link delay and interruption, along with asymmetric data rates - are the purpose of the proof-of-concept experiment outlined herein. In recognizing the potential of these two technologies, we report an initial experiment and characterization of the performance of a DTN-enabled space optical link. The experiment design employs a point-to-point free-space optical link configured to have asymmetric bandwidth. This link connects two networked systems running a DTN protocol implementation designed and written at JPL for use on spacecraft, and further configured for higher bandwidth performance. Comparing baseline data transmission metrics with and without periodic optical link interruptions, the experiment confirmed the DTN protocols' ability to handle real-world unexpected link outages while maintaining capability of reliably delivering data at relatively high rates. Finally, performance characterizations from this data suggest performance optimizations to configuration and protocols for future optical-specific DTN space link scenarios.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Schoolcraft, Joshua
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Wilson, Keith
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
May 11, 2011
Subject Category
Space Communications, Spacecraft Communications, Command And Tracking
Meeting Information
Meeting: International Conference on Space Optical Systems and Applications, Santa Monica, California, May 11, 2011
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: May 11, 2011
Distribution Limits
Space networking
Interplanetary Overlay Network
Disruption tolerant network

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