NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is a U.S. government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.
From the first of October 1958 they were open for business and doing research in the field of studying the solar system and beyond.
To do all of this research, it’s most definitely a necessity to have a high speed internet. A lot of data needs to be transported and processed while doing research and we don’t want the slow internet to be a factor in the new technology that is being researched at NASA right?
In this blog we will be covering what Network NASA uses, How Fast their internet is, how they achieved those results, And why they need such a high speed internet.
What Network Does NASA Use?
Unlike us, NASA doesn’t use any commercial internet providers. They don’t even use the World Wide Web like we do.
This is because the data that they need to send and receive is highly confidential and time sensitive.
Therefore, they use a network called Energy Science Network for short ESnet.
This is a highly policed network, secured by military grade security and primarily used for research purposes.
Because they have different field centers across the globe and in different timezones their network has to be insanely fast because the data that they need to send and receive is time sensitive.
Rean more about ESnet6.
How Fast is NASA’s Internet speed?
From an experiment done in 2013 we can learn that the internet speed at NASA easily reaches 91 gigabits per second.
This is a little over 455 times faster than the country with the fastest internet and approximately 5000 times faster than the average internet speed connection.
To give you an idea about how fast this is, imagine downloading a movie in full HD quality in less than a second.
Even though this was an experiment performed on the ESnet, their regular network speeds won’t be that fast.
The experiment was done on a tested network in ideal conditions with the best hardware as it possibly can be.
This means all the equipment were working at their highest capacity. And it would be risky and very expensive, considering the amount of power to run it at full capacity 24/7.
The experiment was just a proof of concept that the ESnet network is capable of very high speeds.
Gigabytes vs Gigabits – What’s the difference?
A lot of us are familiar with the terms “Megabytes” and “Gigabytes”. But what about “Gigabits” ?
Gigabits is relatively new and a unique term.
That’s the reason why many people get confused between “Bytes” and “Bits”.
To get a better understanding of this term, let us first explain the relation between bit and byte:
A bit is the fundamental unit of data in a computer. It has a single binary value of 0 or 1. Like a cell in the human body, it is the building block of data transmission.
On the other hand, 1 byte is made up of 8 bits, and it’s a larger unit used for data transfer and communication. So:
1 Byte = 8 Bits
1 Bit = 0.125 Byte
1 Megabit = 0.125 × 1,000,000 = 125,000 byte or 125 Kilobyte
1 Gigabit = 125,000 × 1000 = 125,000,000 or 125 Megabyte
91 Gigabit = 91 × 125,000,000 = 11.375 Gigabyte
Therefore, NASA’s internet connection has an incredible speed of 11.375 Gigabytes, not 91 Gigabytes.
How Did NASA Achieve This high internet Speed?
If you travel on a road that has a lot of crossings it would take a lot more time to reach your destination even if you have to go straight forward all the time.
This is because you have to stop more often to see if it is safe to cross the road. If we replaced this road and use a highway instead where there are no crossings and the only way to go is from point A to point B directly, your journey would be so much faster.
This is very similar in the way the network works. The less joints, switches, routers etc. These are called nodes, the faster data can travel through the network.
The ESnet is a network with fewer nodes. Because it is not congested and consists of fewer nodes it reaches insanely fast internet speeds.
The ESnet network can be a lot faster than 91 GB/s. Japanese researchers have achieved 319 TB/s over a distance of 3001 Kilometers.
This is approximately, 3500 times faster than NASA. This shows that the ESnet network can handle a lot of speed.
Why Does NASA Need High-Speed Internet?
It is very obvious that you would ask why they need that much speed and security. The straightforward answer is that NASA deals with a lot of data.
Let it be the data from radio telescopes or the high-resolution images from its space telescopes. It even includes the networking they do on the ground, between laboratories and international field centers.
The information they gather daily also needs to be secured because they work on classified or confidential information that will damage national security in the hands of a third party.
Imagine having new deadly technology data related to war machines in the hands of criminals. That could be very catastrophic for humankind, and it’s NASA’s job to protect us from these activities.
That is why they need their data to be very secure.
They also need this data quickly since data from space is extremely time-bound, and delays will cause issues with the experiments they were running or equipment that they were monitoring remotely.
Other NASA articles:
We came to an end with this blog and we have learned that NASA is a government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.
Because of their research they need to send and receive lots of data, so they need a fast network. Therefore they use an ESnet network that is very fast.
With their ESnet network, they can reach speeds up to 91 GB/s. This network is fast because it consists of fewer nodes in the network and is less congested, unlike the internet as we know it.
Because of the confidentiality of the data this network has to be very secure as well. This network is encrypted with military grade encryption making it almost impossible to hack into and breach that data.
We don’t want that data in the hands of the wrong people because the damages may be frightening. They need this network, not for gaming and movie streaming like us, but for sending data like radio telescope images, high resolution telescope images, controlling their spacecrafts, but also processing research data on the ground between laboratories and international field centers.
Is this network the answer to working from home without being bothered with a slow internet connection where everything buffers but still be safe enough with the company data because of its encryption?