SCIENCE CHINA Information Sciences, Volume 61, Issue 4: 040302(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-017-9346-1

Solar system interplanetary communication networks: architectures, technologies and developments

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  • ReceivedSep 14, 2017
  • AcceptedFeb 2, 2018
  • PublishedMar 7, 2018


With the development of deep space exploration technologies, main space agencies all over the world are working hard to develop the solar system interplanetary communication networks (SSICN). SSICN is a perspective communication networking system characterized by high data rate, high intelligent and perfect interconnection, which could provide the deep-space mission control and scientific application with the convenient, reliable and secure data transmission services. Following the introduction of future deep space exploration prospect, this paper analyzes the similarities and differences for three networks, terrestrial internet, near Earth space networks and SSICN, then discusses the key technologies and research trends of SSICN in details, and finally proposes the suggestions for the construction of future Chinese SSICN.


This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 61671263, 61271265), and Tsinghua University Independent Scientific Research Project (Grant No. 20161080057). The authors thank professor Gengxin ZHANG with the Army Engineering University of PLA for his helpful discussions and insights.


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  • Figure 1

    7-layer OSI & 5-layer TCP/IP protocol stacks.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) Architecture of the integrated space-ground network.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Typical near Earth space network protocol stacks and its conversion procedure.

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) IPN architecture diagram.

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Cluster-based IPN networks diagram.

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) (a) Large scale and (b) small scale IPN backbone network diagram.

  • Figure 7

    (Color online) Typical IPN planetary network diagram.

  • Table 1   Comparison of the signal attenuation and time delay
    Planet Max distance from Earth Compared with GEO Maximum time delay
    $(10^{6}~{\rm~km})$ Distance times Path Loss Increase (dB) (mins)
    Mercury $~221.9$ $6163.9$ $75.797$ $12.336^\star$
    Venus $~261.0$ $7250.0$ $77.207$ $14.510^\star$
    Mars $~401.3$ $\!\!\!11147.2$ $80.943$ $22.310^\star$
    Jupiter $~968.0$ $26888.9^\star$ $~\,88.592^\star$ $53.815^\star$
    Saturn $\!1659.1$ $46086.1^\star$ $93.271$ $92.236^\star$
    Uranus $\!3155.1$ $\!\!\!87641.7$ $98.854$ $\!\!\!175.405^\star$
    Neptune $\!4694.1$ $\!\!\!130391.7^\star$ $\!\!102.305$ $\!\!\!260.964^\star$

    Note: According to the situation of [1] such as the furthest distance from earth and GEO altitude, and the light speed in vacuum (c = $299792458$ m/s), we recalculate three parameters as times of distance, increase in path loss and maximum unidirectional time delay, with some results (marked as $^\star$ in this table) revised.

  • Table 2   Some main parameters during the Mars EDL phase
    Probe MPF Phoenix Curiosity
    Entry mass (kg) $584$ $603$ $3300$
    Entry velocity (km/s) $7.26$ $5.6$ $5.9$
    Frequency during EDL phase X-band UHF X-band/UHF
    Duration of blackout (s) $30$ Signal attenuation $<95$
  • Table 3   Differences of such three typical communication networks
    Networks Terrestrial internet Near Earth space networks SSICN
    Power consumption Not critical Critical Very critical
    Time delay 0.01–0.1 s 0.1–1 s 1–$10^{4}$ s
    Application require- Multimedia integrated Routine TT&C; observing Deep space TT&C; remote
    ments services data download; multimedia sensing data returned; multi-
    integrated services media integrated services
    Network topology Dense; fixed/low-dynamic Half sparse; high-dynamic Sparse; low/high-dynamic
    Propagation medium Copper/Fiber/RF RF/Laser RF/Laser
    SNR Wired: high; wireless: low, Low, depending on the power, Very low, depending on power,
    depending on the power, channel conditions, etc. channel conditions, etc.
    channel conditions, customer
    density, etc.
    Construction cost Low High, as a function of mass Very high, as a function of dis-
    tance, mass
    Maintenance cost Low High, as a function of reliability Very high, as a function of dis-
    tance, reliability, etc.
    Advantages Short latency, high speed, Low latency, high coverage, Lead the development of space
    continuous connection reconfigurable easily technology, huge investment
    Challenges More data & high intelligent Easy connect anywhere anytime High speed data transmission

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