The internet started in the 1980s and since then it is evolving and becoming more efficient. It made our lives easy and made the world a global village. But as the technology is developing and humans are going into space, many private and government companies have started to work on connecting the Earth to Space with the internet and WiFi.
NASA with Dr. Vinton Cerf, who is considered as one of the fathers of the internet, developed the Delay or Disruption Tolerant Network (DTN), which was successfully tested in 2008. In this experiment, NASA sent many images to and from a spacecraft that was about 20 million kilometers away from Earth.
This was just the beginning of this technology in space. In 2012, NASA provided internet available in the International Space Station (ISS) for the astronauts. It was to make living in space better and also for those who are working to make humans a multi-planetary species. A signal from Mars takes 3 to 20 minutes to reach Earth, while the quality of the internet is also lost because the signal weakens as it covers this huge distance. Internet and WiFi won’t just make this communication faster but it will also improve the quality of the data.
In 2013, NASA successfully tested the first fastest signal from the moon to Earth. The data was sent from the lunar orbit to earth at a very high rate (622 Megabits per second) and it was six times faster than the previously used method. In this experiment, four different satellites were used on the ground and were linked to a satellite in lunar orbit. The message was sent with a laser beam with infrared light. It was transmitted with coded pulses and then received on the ground stations on an optical fiber which amplified the signals before they could be converted into data. Four satellites were used in order to deal with the signal loss due to atmospheric interference.
Tweet from space
Another amazing job was done by a New Mexican company Solstar Space. They created a device called Schmitt Space Communicator which is equipped with special equipment to make communication between Earth and space possible. In 2017, this device was launched into space in Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. This device can be used to call and tweet from space. The device has been tested many times and it has successfully tweeted many times from space.
Besides these experiments, many other techniques have also been tested and are being developed to make internet and Wi-Fi connections in space. In 2014, ISS conducted its first successful communication to Earth using Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS). They transmitted an HD video (175MB) to earth as the station passed over the Table Mountain Observatory in California. They also transmitted text files multiple times. China has also participated in this race by demonstrating quantum communication by sending two entangled quantum particles. This was revolutionary as it is the first step towards developing a quantum internet. In 2018, the first selfie was sent from Antarctica to the ISS using a mobile phone. Again DTN software was used for this activity.
Though many advancements have been made in this field, internet speed is still slow. Well, many scientists are working on it and in the future, we hope, we will see a better future with fast communication wherever we are.