NASA Uses a Shadow Network That's 1000x Faster Than Your Internet

By Sarah Zhang on at

When it comes to truly humongous amounts of data, it can be faster to just drop a hard drive in the mail—unless you have access to the Energy Sciences Network, a blazing shadow network that is 100 times faster than even Google Fibre.

Of course, you need to be doing something more important than downloading all four seasons of Game of Thrones on this fast set of fibre optic cables. The Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, is supervised by the Department of Energy for research use. Scientists handling huge datasets from, say, the Large Hadron Collider or the Human Genome Project, may have access to the network. In addition, writes Klint Finley in Wired, "ESnet is a test bed where scientists can explore new ideas before setting them loose on the commercial internet."

In November, ESnet achieved the fastest ever end-to-end data transfer of data at the time in real world conditions. NASA sent 91 gigabits of data per second from Denver to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

ESnet is also looking for ways of advancing network architecture. As Flint writes: "Researchers have used it to explore virtual network circuits called 'Oscars,' which can be used to create complex networks without complex hardware changes. And they're working on what are known as network 'DMZs', which can achieve unusually fast speeds by handling security without traditional network firewalls."

ESnet's director says the eventual goal is a terabit-per-second network connection. [Wired]

Top image: Overview of ESnet