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This is the first of a number of blog entries designed to help newbies come up to speed on Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking. If you find an online article you think others would be interested in, or if there is a topic you would like to see covered in future blogs, drop a note to

What if I don’t know anything about IPN?


Many members of IPNSIG may be familiar with the technologies behind the traditional Internet, but be completely new to the domain of Interplanetary Networking and DTN (Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking). While there are hundreds of technical articles available about different aspects of DTN, these articles typically assume previous knowledge of the technical foundations of the protocols and the problems they are attempting to solve. One can always turn to RFC’s… but they also assume the reader is “in” on the technical context.

What is a newbie to do?

There are a number of terse introductory videos and online documents available to help newbies come up to speed, and some on them are available on the website. Here’s a couple:

A short TED Talk by Vint Cerf explaining the very basic challenges IPN presents and DTN’s approach to addressing them:

A terse technical introduction to DTN, covering most major topics. Many thanks to Forrest Warthman of Warthman Associates) for authoring this latest version (and Scott Burleigh of NASA/JPL for technical consultation and review).

However, if you really want to understand Interplanetary Networking and DTN, we’d suggest you investigate a couple of recently published books that provide both a solid overview of the history, architecture and technologies involved in DTN:

  • Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networks: Interplanetary and Earth-Bound — Architecture, Protocols, and Applications CRC Press – Aloizio Pereira da Silva (Editor), Scott Burleigh (Editor), Katia Obraczka (Editor) – 2018
  • Delay-Tolerant Satellite Networks (Space Technology and Applications) Artech House – Juan A. Fraire (Author), Jorge M. Finochietto (Author), Scott C. Burleigh (Author) – 2017

While books like these represent an investment in time and money (there is a Kindle edition available at deep discount for Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networks: Interplanetary and Earth-Bound — Architecture, Protocols, and Applications), there is much to be gained by plowing one’s way through them. Both contain excellent introductory content that lays a good foundation for the reader in understanding later technical topics.

As the title indicates, Delay-Tolerant Satellite Networks (Space Technology and Applications focuses almost exclusively on DTN in space data communications. The more limited scope allows the authors to explain not only DTN, but also the existing and planned space communications infrastructure upon which it operates.

Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networks: Interplanetary and Earth-Bound — Architecture, Protocols, and Applications expands the arena for DTN to include the many, many terrestrial applications for addressing constrained network environments. These run the gamut from enabling email delivery for reindeer herders in the Arctic Circle to providing basic Internet services to villagers in rural Africa. There’s an entire chapter devoted to DTN’s usefulness in the burgeoning world of the Internet of Things (IoT).

There is also the first book-length treatment of DTN from back in 2006:

  • Delay- and Disruption-Tolerant Networking - Artech House Publishers – Stephen Farrell, Vinny Cahill – 2006

Stephen Farrell was the co-chair of the DTN Research Group. This book is most useful for an understanding of the history of DTN development and why it is so necessary for both interplanetary and constrained terrestrial networking environments.

Still daunted?

We are all newbies at some point in understanding any topic in depth. It can be overwhelming. We encourage you to take advantage of some of the resources highlighted in this blog posting. We’ll be focusing on online video resources introducing you to the world of DTN in our next blog entry.

This blog is a product of the usual suspects: Scott Burleigh (NASA/JPL); Jay Wyatt (NASA/JPL); Keith Scott (Mitre Corp./CCSDS) and Mike Snell (IPNSIG)


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