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via BBC News

The interplanetary internet has been used by an astronaut at the International Space Station (ISS) to send commands to a robot on Earth.

The experimental technology, called Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol, could be a future way to communicate with astronauts on Mars.

Currently, if there is a problem when data is sent between Earth and Mars rovers, information can be lost.

The DTN could offer a more robust way to send data over the vast distances.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASAconducted the experiment in late October.

ISS Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams used a laptop with DTN software to control a rover in Germany.

The DTN is similar to the internet on Earth, but is much more tolerant to the delays and disruptions that are likely to occur when data is shuttling between planets, satellites, space stations and distant spacecraft.

The delays can be due to solar storms or when spacecraft are behind a planet.

“It’s all about communicating over large distances, because the ‘normal’ internet doesn’t expect that it may take minutes before something is sent for it to arrive,” Kim Nergaard from ESA told the BBC.

The work on the DTN was first proposed a decade ago by Vint Cerf – one of the creators of the internet on Earth.

The technology was first tested in November 2008, when NASA successfully transmitted images to and from a spacecraft 20 million miles away with a communications system based on the net.

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Article courtesy bbc.co.uk