Nasa has used an 'interplanetary internet' to control a robot on Earth from the International Space Station.
The experimental version of the new Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) protocol was developed with the European Space Agency, and enables internet-like communications between vehicles and humans on Earth.
Eventually it could form the basis of a communications network with the moon or other planets.
"The demonstration showed the feasibility of using a new communications infrastructure to send commands to a surface robot from an orbiting spacecraft and receive images and data back from the robot," said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation at Nasa.
"The experimental DTN we've tested from the space station may one day be used by humans on a spacecraft in orbit around Mars to operate robots on the surface, or from Earth using orbiting satellites as relay stations."