02 December 2019
It has recently been suggested in this journal by Benford (2019) that "Lurkers" in the form of interstellar exploration probes could be present in the solar system. Similarly, extraterrestrial intelligence could send long-lived probes to many other stellar systems, to report back science and surveillance. If probes and planets with technological species exist in more than a handful of systems in our galaxy, it is beneficial to use a coordinated communication scheme. Due to the inverse square law, data rates decrease strongly for direct connections over long distances. The network bandwidth could be increased by orders of magnitude if repeater stations (nodes) are used in an optimized fashion. This introduction to a series of papers makes the assumptions of the communication scheme explicit. Subsequent papers will discuss technical aspects such as transmitters, repeaters, wavelengths, and power levels. The overall purpose is to gain insight into the physical characteristics of an interstellar communication network, allowing us to describe the most likely sizes and locations of nodes and probes.