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DTN Content from JPL/NASA







Some new content has recently become available that I believe IPNSIG members would find interesting.

Leigh Torgerson, IPNSIG member and Space Communications Networking Architect from JPL/NASA, has posted some useful animations explaining Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networking concepts. It’s available for viewing at:

Leigh also recently made a presentation that was even more recently released for publication. It’s available here: 332-Section-DTN-Seminar-2019-for-Public-Release–final

The presentation provides fairly detailed historical background, an explanation of why Internet protocols do not work in space, and a picture of where DTN is going in the near future.


Announcing IPNSIG Blog

Welcome to the InterPlanetary Networking Blog! We intend to make this a weekly publication of interest to everyone interested in InterPlanetary Networking (IPN), Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN), and computer networking in general.

Since this is the inaugural blog entry, we thought it would be useful to back up a bit and answer some basic questions:

What is IPN?

It is a solution to the constrained network environment present in space data communications and, more generally, in the emerging Internet of Things.

TCP/IP, the core technology [BSC(1] running today’s Internet, assumes essentially instantaneous, continuous end-to-end connectivity, and fails when it encounters delay or disruption of any significant length (about 4 seconds).

However, delays and disruptions are inherent in data communications at interplanetary distances, with the shortest Round Trip Time (RTT) for a radio signal to travel to Mars and back being about 7 minutes. Other factors contribute to the network constraints existing in interplanetary communications, but delay is the most significant factor making existing Internet protocols impractical for use.








Enter DTN:

Adrian Hooke (Sr. Technical Director with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) meets Vint Cerf (co-author of the TCP/IP protocols and one of “Fathers of the Internet”) in the late 1990’s. They discover they both want to provide the same kind of network communications automation in space networking that works so well on the Internet.

Vint Cerf gets to work. A terse history follows:

  • DARPA funds work at JPL.
  • Core experimental “delay-tolerant networking” protocols developed by JPL, MITRE, Sparta researchers.
  • ION implementation of DTN developed at JPL for use by NASA.
  • DTNRG established to mature the protocols.
  • ION demonstrated on the EPOXI spacecraft in deep space.
  • ION deployed for all science payload communications on ISS.

Where is IPN today?

  • IETF DTN Working Group formed to establish DTN protocols as Internet standards.
  • Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS—a global standards setting organization for civilian space flight) standards adoption well underway.
  • Security Protocols maturing (including Public Key Infrastructure—PKI).
  • Dr. Scott Pace (White House Space Policy Director) challenges NASA to use DTN for all space communications (see for Dr. Pace’s presentation at our 2015 IPN Speakers Conference).
  • NASA integrating DTN into ground networks and future spacecraft.

IPN’s bright future

  • Increasing standardization amongst civilian space agencies.
  • Increasing international research into DTN for constrained terrestrial as well as space networking environments.
  • Coming adoption as internet standards.


What’s next for the blog?


Each week, we will post news about the exciting world of IPN, or summaries of academic research, or links to IPN in the mainstream media. We’ll also be announcing upcoming IPNSIG events and activities. We hope you enjoy the blog.


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)

DTN Article Published on Discover Magazine Blog Site

Thanks to board member Vint Cerf for bringing this to our attention.

Members might be interested in this article, slanted towards a general audience. It provides a brief overview of some of the history of DTN and includes news about including it in the PACE environmental monitoring satellite mission in 2022. Enjoy the read… it’s good to see DTN get some coverage in popular media.



Live Stream of Private Space Science 2018

Joly MacFie of the NYC Chapter will be streaming this weekend’s (June 2nd & 3rd) Dawn of Private Space Science 2018 speakers conference from Columbia University in New York City. Event details, including the speakers and schedule, are avalable here: Joly’s stream will be available on the Internet Society’s LiveStream channel:

This should be an event of interest to all members!
Mike Snell

MITRE Publishes Updated DTN Development Kit

Thanks to IPN-ISOC Board Member Keith Scott of Mitre Corp. for providing the contents for this post!


Thanks to MITRE’s Technology Transfer Office, the latest version of the DTN Development Kit is now hosted on a MITRE server and available for download:

The Development Kit ISO is an Ubuntu VM with ION 3.5.0, the Common Open Research Emulator (CORE), and some utilities to help users get started with DTN, and ION in particular.  CORE is a virtualization environment that allows for easily running multiple ION nodes and controlling the connectivity and communication parameters (latency, packet loss rate, etc.) among them.  Sample scenarios are included that emulate constantly-connected nodes (for easy testing), a data mule scenario, a Mars scenario, and an Earth-observing satellite scenario.  In the sample scenarios, connectivity is controlled by an emulated wireless link and a simple mobility script.  ION contact plans are synchronized to the mobility script to allow testing of scheduled connectivity.  [NB: this process is not perfect, the contact plans may end up misaligned by a few seconds, so contacts that last several 10s of seconds are recommended.  Also, many of the scenarios rely on IP routing to reach even next-hop neighbors (e.g. if a next-hop neighbor has multiple interfaces) – it may be necessary to wait 30s or so at the beginning of a scenario for OSPF to converge before BP can take over and function.]

To run any of the scenarios, boot the virtual machine and log in as user: core  password: cvm  and start the core-daemon with ‘core-daemon &’, then start the core-gui with ‘core-gui &’.  From there you can use the file menu to navigate to the DTN Dev Kit Scenarios under ~/.core/configs and launch one.  There’s documentation in the NSA_DTN_CORE_Scenarios folder in the user’s home directory.

Screenshots of the scenarios:

A simple scenario with a satellite that moves in and out of range.







A Mars scenario with 3 ground stations, a rover, and an orbiter.










An Earth-observing satellite scenario with multiple ground stations:











Network Management

A new and relatively untested feature: the DevKit now incorporates an Elasticsearch / Logstash / Kibana (ELK) stack and simple scripts to exercise ION network management. The network management script DOES require that you (one time) follow the instructions below  Everything below will be done automatically in future versions of the Dev Kit, but for now:


[Ensure you have your http_proxy and https_proxy environment variables set]

Run:       sudo -E apt-get install python-pexpect

From within the DevKit VM, start Firefox and go to localhost://5601 to get the Kibana interface.  Select the ‘Settings’ tab in the top ribbon.  If ‘bpnm’ show up under the ‘Index Patterns’ on the left side, select it and click the red trash can to delete it.

From the ~/NASA_DTN_CORE_Scenarios/CORE_configs/3GS/MO/link/NMConsole directory, run the following to set up the datatypes in the Elasticsearch database.  This needs to be run from a terminal on the DevKit VM itself (NOT one of the emulated machines inside CORE that are running ION).

Run:       sudo ./

Again click on the Kibana page with the ‘Settings’ tab, so that it says “Configure an Index Pattern” and in the bar where you can type, type ‘bpnm’ (no quotes).  This should enable the ‘time-field name’ selection, where you want ‘receive_timestamp’.

NOTE: yes, there’s a ‘SendTimestamp’ that you might think would be better, but I think SOMEBODY (probably me) in the chain doesn’t handle daylight savings time right –  send timestamps come out an hour in the future, so until that gets sorted out, let’s stick with receive timestamps.













Network management is only enabled in the 3GS scenario.  In the 3GS scenario, double-click on the ‘MO’ node (ION node 5 in the lower left) and cd into the NMConsole directory of the node.  The script will pull basic network management information from a node and insert it into an elasticsearch database (do ‘ –h’ for usage, but ‘ –m ipn:5.6 –a ipn:2.5’ will pull information from node 2).  You can then get at the data from Kibana by going to the ‘Discover’ tab and selecting ‘bpnm’ from the list of index patterns (dark grey bar upper left)












Future enhancements will include scripts that will plot e.g. the number of bundles resident at a node over time, etc.

Letter to Members re ISS DTN Go Live

Dear Chapter Members–

An item of interest for you:

NASA has just announced that Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) has just gone live for all communications to the International Space Station (ISS). This is a really significant step forward for DTN and InterPlanetary Networking. While DTN has been used since 2010 for communications between scientists on the ground and their scientific payloads onboard ISS, NASA had to be much more careful in deploying ISS for operational communications, which are critical to crew safety and flight operations. It took over a year to review and approve the Change Request. NASA’s decision to go live with DTN is a huge vote of confidence for its reliability and fitness-to-task for space communications.

Here is a link to the official NASA announcement:

Many, many people and organizations have worked for many years to make this a reality. Key organizations include the the DTN Research Group of the Internet Research Task Force, who developed and tested the protocol suite; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who developed the Interplanetary Overlay Network (ION) implementation of DTN, and the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS), who reviewed and approved the Bundle Protocol and Licklider Transport Protocols for use in civilian space flight.

We are fortunate to have members of our Chapter and our Board who have been key players in this effort. These include:

Board member Vint Cerf, widely recognized as one of the “Fathers of the Internet” for his work on the design of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet, also helped secure the DARPA funding to launch the initial InterPlanetary Internet studies within NASA/JPL.

Vice Chair Scott Burleigh, who has led the development of the ION implementation of DTN (which is the version in use on ISS). He coauthored the DTN Architecture definition (Internet RFC 4838) and also the specification for the DTN Bundle Protocol (BP, Internet RFC 5050).  In addition, he is a co-author of the specifications for the Licklider Transmission Protocol (LTP, Internet RFCs 5325 through 5327).

Board member Keith Scott began working on the Interplanetary Internet in 1998, implemented a precursor to the current Bundle Protocol, and is co-author of the Bundle Protocol (RFC 5050).  Keith currently serves as Area Director for Space Internetworking Systems for the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) and leads the CCSDS DTN working group that is standardizing DTN protocols for use in civilian space missions.

Board member Jay Wyatt who, through his role in managing the JPL Space Networking and Mission Automation Program Office has led various DTN development activities including the first deep space flight validation of DTN on NASA’s EPOXi mission.  Currently Jay is the programmatic point of contact for DTN development at JPL and is involved in pursuing various opportunities to infuse DTN into upcoming deep space missions and to complete development of the DTN software suite.

And, finally, we want to acknowledge our departed colleague, IPNSIG Board Member and tireless advocate of DTN, Adrian Hooke, who led the interplanetary networking initiatives within NASA/JPL for many years. Please see for more information about Adrian’s contributions to the field.

Mike Snell

President, the InterPlanetary Network Chapter

DTN Goes Live on ISS!

It’s been a long time coming, but DTN is finally live on the International Space Station.

Here is the  official NASA announcement:

DTN has been used for  communication to ISS scientific payloads since May, 2010. This marks the conversion to DTN for all data communications with ISS, including all operational communications.


Interplanetary Internet Implemented on GENI

GENIlogoAn interesting article on the ION distribution of DTN: “The Interplanetary Internet Implemented on the GENI Testbed” can be found at: One of the key findings of this research was that implementing and IPN with multiple cross-links for communications to Mars would increase transmission of data by 46%!

GENI (Global Environment for Network Innovations) provides a virtual laboratory for networking and distributed systems research and education. More info available at:

Here is the abstract:

Abstract: Interplanetary Internet or Interplanetary Networking is envisaged as a space network which interconnects spacecrafts, satellites, rovers and orbiters of different planets and comets for efficient exchange of scientific data such as telemetry and images. In this paper, we implement a layout of the Interplanetary Internet (IPN) with the Interplanetary Overlay Network (ION) software module that uses Contact Graph Routing (CGR). The experiments are then implemented on the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) testbed. Along with realistic contact plans (CP) of the nodes, this network implementation was used to run experiments testing the performance of Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) with and without cross links between Mars orbiters. The experiments showed that in an Earth-Mars communication network using two Mars orbiters, allowing cross links between the orbiters results in increasing the amount of data transferred by roughly 9.2%. Data sent from Mars Rover to the Earth stations also increases by 35.7% when a third satellite (Mars Express) was added to the network without cross links. Finally, when cross links are allowed across all satellites orbiting Mars and serving as relay nodes between the Earth stations and Mars rover, the communication was enhanced by almost 46%. We conclude that by adding cross links, the performance of the network is enhanced for a better transmission of data from Mars to the Earth, which is very pertinent for the scalability of the network.



Popular Mechanics on DTN


Popular Mechanics has published a pretty good introduction to DTN for the non-technical layperson…

It’s a pretty entertaining read. Check it out at:


Internet of Things Conference Coming Soon

Chapter members might be interested in attending (or viewing via webcast) an Internet of Things Conference organized by our sister chapter, SF Bay ISOC. It’s to be held next Thursday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The event website has all the details: speakers, agenda, links to the registrations site for physical attendance and a link to the ISOC LiveStream channel for viewing the webcast. Speaker videos will be posted to YouTube and LiveStream soon after the event. More more information, please go to:

IPN-ISOC Board Member Vint Cerf is the keynote speaker for the event. IPN-ISOC Vice Chair Scott Burleigh will be giving a presentation on DTN as a cost-effective way to extend the reach of the Internet of Things and improve security.

Mike Snell

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