Internet architecture doesn't need continuous paths between endpoints, says NASA in an announcement that may one day change the way the internet is envisioned.\nThe U.S. government space agency says Delay or Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) \u2014 something it\u2019s been working on for disruption-prone space internet applications \u2014 doesn\u2019t need continuous network connectivity, unlike traditional internet.\nImportantly, it says the delay and fault-tolerant technology could be used down on Earth, too. The networking protocol suite concept would be particularly well suited to internet in remote locations, it says in a press release, related to demonstrations of the technology.\n\nHow Disruption Tolerant Networking works\nSpacecraft-friendly DTN handles data differently than current networks: DTN stores chunks of data at a node when paths get interrupted. The bundle of data simply stands by, waiting until another communication path becomes available. That\u2019s not how it is in classic packet-style network routing where the originator holds onto the data in a buffer waiting for an acknowledgement, and then resends as necessary along the entire path. It\u2019s also unlike to point-to-point\u2014 similar to a traditional phone call.\nIn DTN, the nodes take ownership of message bundles along the path, thus relieving memory loads at the data\u2019s origination. That link in the chain (the first one) can thus proceed with handling more incoming data from sensors and so on. The space industry likes that because it\u2019s efficient for its limited real-estate-available craft. It \u201csaves time and more quickly frees up the limited data memory aboard a spacecraft,\u201d NASA says.\nDTN also addresses power-depleting issues that affect networks when transmitting over long distances.\u00a0The moon is 238,000 miles, and Mars is 140 million miles, the group points out. It\u2019s a highly suitable environment for DTN implemented in NASA\u2019s planned Solar System Internet.\nEarth-based applications for Disruption Tolerant Networking\nDTN may have land-based applications, too, including remote Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.\n\u201cDTN could become a communication necessity for all types of terrestrial applications,\u201d NASA says. It would be an \u201cinternet style,\u201d but without the necessity of a continuous path between the endpoints and thus suited for scenarios and environments with frequent hiccups. In fact, only the next node, or hop, needs to be accessible.\nNASA used the protocol recently in Antarctica at the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station where it performed a demo with a non-continuous link. And NASA\u2019s Science Mission Directorate aims to use the disruption tolerant technique in a global climate study analyzing remote and limited connectivity marine environments, planned for the early 2020s.\nDTN concepts could apply to other difficult paths, too, says David Israel, a communications architect at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.\n\u201cDTN represents a shift in how data will get delivered in the future,\u201d he says, referring to space.\nBut land-based disruptions such as radio propagation issues, a concerted attack by a party, and power supply issues, could be alleviated through DTN. Wireless disaster communications is an obvious one, too.\n\u201cAny remote location on Earth that has limited network connectivity is a candidate for DTN,\u201d Israel says.