NASA! Looks like a familiar word right? Well, of course, we all know what NASA is. NASA is National Aeronautics and Space Administration, that is an independent agency located in the United States of America that works towards civilian space program, aeronautics and aerospace researches. It was formed on July 29th 1958 comes under the jurisdiction of United States Government.
The Internet is the most important blessing in today’s society and the world. Without the internet, we feel like Early-man. The Internet has made this world a really very small space to live in. But have we ever tried to know what the internet speed of NASA is? In this article, I will raise the curtain from this question and other behind the screen matters.
NASA always strives to forms a colony on Mars or any other planet that is suitable for human colonization because of the situation we are following like Global warming, Ozone Layer Corrosion, Water Scarcity, Pollution, etc. Due to an unfeasible environment at Earth and the continuous degradation of our nature by us is the main motive behind NASA’s Space Program. We all have seen big and gigantic equipments, shuttles and what not in the Space adventure movies, but never bothered to know what and how the system work. NASA is led by Administrator Jim Bridenstine who is NASA’s 13th administrator.
What is the Internet Speed in NASA?
Google’s Financial Officer Patrick Pichette announced that the tech giant might bring 10 gigabits per second of internet speed to the American homes which came out to be a hypothetical situation for all of us. It will be 1000 times faster than today’s internet speed. But when it comes to NASA this speed is a tiny globule. The Space Agency uses Shadow Network, ESnet short for Energy Science Network which is a set of private pipes that has demonstrated cross-country data transfers of 91 gigabits per second– highest internet speed in NASA. ESnet, which is run by the U.S. Department of Energy, cannot be used in home networks for our pity works like sending mails, surfing internet, browsing websites, etc. but is an important tool for researchers who deal in massive amounts of data generated by projects such as the Large Hadrons Collider and the Human Genome Project. It can be used to trade scientific data via ultra-fast network. Gregory Bell the ESnet director, mentioned that their vision for the world should not be constrained by geography.
Origin of ESnet:
Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPAnet) was the first nationwide computer research network which was used by Defense Department. This evolved into modern internet which we are using today as our home networks. In 1976, the Department of Energy created a new network that used Magnetic Fusion Energy Network to connect National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center with other research laboratories. In 1980, to connect particle physics researchers at national labs, Department of Energy came up with new network called High Energy Physics Network. As the network grew, the agency chiefs realized that there is no necessity to maintain two different networks and merged them into one named as ESnet today. In the beginning, it used to run on Satellite links and Landlines. Now as the time changes and technology grows, it started to use Fiber Optic Lines.
With my 40 Mbps of speed, life seemed so easy. All I could think was bring it on, movies in minutes. Little did I know, my bubble of happiness would burst so soon after hearing the internet speed of NASA.
NASA conducted a research to find the speed of internet, in November 2013. NASA’s High-End Computer Networking team achieved a speed of whopping 91 gigabits per second (91 Gbps) or 11.375 Gbps transfer between Super Computer 13 at Denver and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was the fastest end-to-end data transfer ever conducted under “real world” conditions. It is important to note that this test involved only these two Machines, so it is actually just a LAN (Local Area Network). LAN supports only few devices situated in the local areas but WAN and MAN (Wide and Metropolitan Area Network) supports big regions.
NASA transferred files between Goddard and the University of Utah over ESnet in 2012 at a speed of 98 gigabit per second. And Alcatel-Lucent and BT obliterated that record earlier 2014 with a 1.4 terabit connection between London and Ipswich. But in both cases, the two locations had a direct connection, something you rarely see in real-world connections. NASA Internet Speed 2017 and 2018 is 91 Gbps.
How is NASA using this internet speed?
We all know that Universe is in expanding state right now. It is expanding in accelerated speed. Approximately 13.7 billion years ago, the Universe was almost homogenous—meaning that every location in the cosmos was similar. Today, this is no longer the case. The modern Universe is rich in structures that include galaxies; clusters of gravitationally bound galaxies; galaxy super-structures called “walls” that span hundreds of millions of light-years; and the relatively empty spaces between superstructures, called voids. NASA Researchers are using this data to understand how the Universe has changed over billions of years.
Well with 91 Gbps of internet speed, NASA has to not worry about the download of the famous TV series, movies etc. ultra-fast and that too in HD quality. When we compare NASA’s speed and our average broadband connection’s speed well in that case NASA’s internet is whopping 13,000 times faster than our internet speed at homes and can beat any speed test. This ultra-fast speed helps in transferring the humongous data from one center to another without consuming much time and hard disk space. The download speed also helps in downloading the gigantic data with ultra-fast speed. One of the major problems with long-distance data transfer is that the data doesn’t travel in straight line. It is more of a point-to-point transfer. While doing so the internet speed drops. ESnet which when used in the direct transfer has the capability of transferring at a speed of 100 Gbps.
There was news about the internet speed in NASA and many articles mentioned the speed of internet in NASA is 91 GBPS, which clearly was a Hoax. Let’s understand the difference between Gigabytes and Gigabits. 1 Gigabyte (1 GB) = 8 Gigabits (8 Gb) and 1 Gigabit = 128 Megabytes.
NASA Future Experiment:
ESnet is also looking for ways of advancing network architecture. As Flint writes, “Researchers have used it to explore virtual network circuits called ‘Oscars,’ which can be used to create complex networks without complex hardware changes.
NASA’s is taking its first step towards next- generation of Internet Speed which will be known as Space Internet. Laser Communication Relay demonstration (LCRD) will operate in Laser Communications. It could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications. It is the next step of using Optical communications for both near Earth and Space missions. It encodes data onto a beam of light, which is then transmitted between spacecraft and eventually to Earth terminals. This network will be 10 to 100 times faster than the current Radio Frequency networks. Laser Communication Systems are much smaller than the Radio Frequency Instruments, making the spacecraft communication systems to have compact size, less weight and power requirements. This mission is built upon Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), which was a very successful pathfinder mission in 2013.
LCRD is designed to function between two and five years. Two ground terminals equipped with laser modems situated at Table Mountain, California and Hawaii will demonstrate communications capability to and from LCRD, which will be located in an orbit that matches Earth’s rotation, called a geosynchronous orbit, between the two stations. The LCRD team is led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA has taken a major step in creating a Solar System Internet by establishing Delay/ Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service on Space Station. This DTN service will enable to automate the data and improve the quality of data availability for space researchers and this in terms will result in more efficient utilization of bandwidth and data return. DTN is a “Store and Forward” automated network that stores partial bundles of data at one node along the communication path and then re-bundle the parts into one for final transfer.
Doesn’t matter how much soever we want this speed at our homes, we cannot expect this ESnet soon in our homes (*Sob in corner*) but can really wish Google’s Gbps scheme soon in our respective cities. But at least we can hope for the best for NASA in terms of Human Colonization on Mars. At least we can go to Mars and destroy another planet yet again! (* Bitter Truth*). Hoping for the best for NASA and us! One thing is certain is that the future of data transfer and any network, be it shadowy or not, is fiber optics.