Aerosolar Critical Mesh

Recently we have been in talks with friends from Avenir Institute regarding the idea of an aerial mesh network.
We are opening previous research from our community regarding this topic, which pro tem we have called it the “Aerosolar Critical Mesh”, or the first ever solar powered aerial mesh network. The name makes reference to the famous worldwide bicycle movement Critical Mass, where cyclists from all over the world come together to defend their rights over polluting means of transportation.

Critical (Mathematics & Physics) > relating to or denoting a point of transition from one state to another

Terragen generated specualtive scenario of aerial mesh network with aerosolar tetrahedron shaped balloons

Possible Definition
The world’s first airborne solar powered communications network that runs on 100% clean solar energy and covers a huge area with media rich communications.


  • catastrophe relief
    • war torn cities
    • floodings
    • earthquakes
  • collaborative aerial mapping
  • citizen environmental monitoring
  • big popular events or demonstrations
  • alternative unmonitored communications network

Mesh network topology visualizations from Freifunk Berlin

Testimonial (fictional)

“after the hurricane, the floods came, you could see people rowing their kayaks through the streets. we needed to assess the situation and be interconnected as we organised the relief efforts, with all cellular infrastructure down. in less than 1 hour we were able to launch an aerosolar mesh, generating a communications grid that covered the two worstly affected neighborhoods. through the aersolar mesh, we were able to obtain aerial photography, and use it to create a feature rich map which allowed us to better redirect our search and rescue efforts.”

red cross rescue worker testimony

aerosolar critical mesh references

Sonnet Labs Canada

GoTenna NY

Raspbery Pi devices

other research

Finally, last but not least >

Aerosolar Critical Mesh Network visual identity study based on cartography semiotics


As a proof of concept, the idea to try this solar mesh network in Epecuén, Argentina, has been raised. Epecuén was a tourist town that was flooded and almost completely covered in water when a nearby dam broke in 1985.

Is this the future around the corner? Epecuén has been featured in many dystopian narratives

As well we imagined launching an Aerosolar free flight from this city, since its isolation and distance from dense urban aereas makes it possible to make a free flight complying with current air-traffic regulations

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Based on the concept of the Aerosolar Critical Mesh, Aeroscene and Avenir Institute are looking into utilising mesh networks as geo-independent infrastructure for what would become Aeropoleis. The goal of the project is to create a concept and a gesture that describes and demonstrates the technical feasibility of an alternative messaging system that enables reasonably modern digital communications without reliance on the Internet in any form.

There are similar projects to what we have been discussing in terms of end user functionality - most notably Google / Loon has one where they aim to bring the Internet accessible to remote areas through (non-Aerosolar) balloons BBC article 19 July 2018. The main differences to what is planned within Aeroscene are two aspects:

  • The balloons of Loon are not Aerosolar but are filled with Helium
  • The network is not an independent mesh network but aims to bring the geo-political Internet available to people

What we instead of are looking for, is a network that does not require instantaneous communication in a single reality (the Internet), or a given the geo-segment of it, as defined by geo-politics. An interesting model of messaging in particular has been introduced by Scuttlebutt Protocol, which does not make assumptions of the reliability or latency of the network used. In Scuttlebutt independently signed and encrypted pieces of messages are transferred and verified but there is not central server or database. The integrity of the data relies on private / public keys and no authority is needed for the verification of activity. Thus there is no authority that could be influenced or compromised.

Scuttlebutt would thus be a possible choice for the network of Aeropoleis, a network that is fundamentally fragmented and might have areas that never overlap - the network would not only allow decentralised communications but would also enable community based networks as seen fit. Data between the segments of networks could be transferred with the Scuttlebutt protocol as seen necessary, and one suggested vessel of transferring the payloads is indeed the Aerosolar balloon.

Below is an illustration of two Aeropoleis exchanging messages via scheduled Aerosolar balloon flights, each having a payload of messages in both ways.


Hi everybody, last week we had a very fruitful meeting with Avenir Institute. You can find our meeting notes below, it would be great if you could make comment or put input! We disucssed about new application ideas, new platforms for the Aerocene Explorer and deeply on Aerosolar Critical Mesh where you can find the research of @Joaquin here Aerosolar Critical Mesh



Denis M, Timo, Margaux P, Erik V, Yelta k, Tomás S

New Application Ideas

How to calculate the points to reward people that launch Aerocene sculptures and join the flights?

References system of public lab, wikipedia, lunix

How to share the minutes you have been floating without any carbon emission and archive everything properly, open to everyone? (could be a Aerochange system)

You can find ideas offline and then you can publish online

Exploring the internet avoiding a Geopolitica border.

Internet is geopolitical

Messages will be in shipped in balloons

Meshed network, should the message immediately or sended in intervals like in

How to carry messages around?

Internal internet network

Wifi between devices between connecting points

We should try his system in Berlin soon…

Joaquin E. should also be part of this

People will be able to connect to the balloon

When is the next climate march?

Synchron in different places connected through a internal network facilitated through a explorer on each location

It doesn’t have to be a website

It could be a web based mobile app

Synchronising the messages, blockchain without blocks

Technically, placing the server on the balloon could be the main point


Publish aeropolitical agenda: Aeropolis

gestures of a political action

Aerocene Manifesto

Political agreements - get in touch with green party, pirate party, chaos computer club

We can go there and propose a presentation

We can all present 3-4 ideas at the annual meeting of the CCC and lobby for our ideas

Forum Aerocene - Meshed Network

Send the manifesto to Denis

Could it become a proper political movement?

Sustainable goals of United Nations

There is nothing about air in their goals

Lets invent the 18th tile - Life in the air

We can get in touch with Chaos Computer Club and propose ideas, see if they are interested

We went to the climate march of

We will look for all the marches and see which one is more suitable

The Manifesto could be published in first week of March

There could be half day presentation in European Parliament

ETER network, Meshed network app of Joaquin

The size, dimension of the balloon, design of the signage

Try different sizes

Chaos computer club is a good idea to find smart people

Where are the antennas Joaquin bought?

Did we try already, what kind of antennas do we have?

How to hack the router?

Start the discussion for Aeroemesh topic in forum

Balloon could become a cable

Airplumb, Davi know the founder

We could meet from time to time and we could launch the Aeropolis Manifesto in Munich

Aerosolar Critical Mesh - Joaquin

Rasperry pi extended wifi

There is a community in New York who are communicating with this meshed network idea

How to create an independent infrastructure?

Scuttle but

Totally solar network

How we can give a push to this idea? Hyperlinks and messages

It should be short and clear message

It should not be so long

It could be also impact in academia

Rethink and reshape the flow of the website

Instead of this menu, we can have practical, aeropolitics, forum, about etc.

Let synergize powers

It could be in the end

Plume lab air pollution

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Woppp. Fascinating stuff. I’d like to quickly just shed some light on another forum post by @Timo where he is giving some added information about the Scuttlebutt network mentioned in this meeting along with some shared visionary goals between Aerocene and Avenir Institute!

@camilla Cami good point there! @yeltakom Yelta I took the liberty of merging with existing Critical Mesh topic. Complete exchange of ideas in one place now.

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Hey @Timo Timo!

Thanks so much for this extensive post, and the drawing which is beautiful and inspiring!
Indeed Scuttlebutt and solar balloons would make a great choice for Aeropoleis communications.

You outlined all the positive aspects of this technology, to keep it real I’d like to point to the fact that the whole network’s messages are stored on each device. It sounds amazing, super de-centralized, but are there any limits to it’s growth? How much capacity does the device need to keep up with an ever growing network?

There’s been some discussion about implementing Scuttlebutt on wi-fi mesh networks at the gotenna forum: Using goTenna for Scuttlebutt data exchange - Decentralization - goTenna Mesh community.

Actually there is already an open source Android app that allows for Scuttlebutt comms, by André Staltz from Finland:
This one seems to be the most developed implementation!

From my side we are still researching on mesh network implementations and will keep you posted about any development!

Hi! I was invited here by Joaquin, and I do agree that Scuttlebutt (SSB) on solar balloons would be quite suitable, both technologically and ideologically. In the SSB community we have discussed the possibility of putting an SSB node on an autonomous sail ship or buoy and just letting it drift around, carrying data.

About mesh networks, SSB can interoperate with multiple low-level networks. For instance, TCP/IP obviously, but also Bluetooth. I’m pioneering the Bluetooth work, and it’s almost ready, would allow for easy phone-to-phone sync of data, see this video. Bluetooth has a short range, though, so it might be challenging for balloons. Ham Radio or LoRa might be an alternative. Also Wi-Fi hotspots could be a good and simple solution. The way SSB works is by eventual consistency, so each balloon does not need to be simultaneously connected with many other balloons, it’s enough that sometimes two balloons are close enough to sync their datasets. So a software-defined mesh network is not absolutely necessary, but if you’re interested, cjdns, B.A.T.M.A.N. (see wikipedia), and Yggdrasil (see github . com / yggdrasil-network) are interesting alternatives.

Feel free to ask me anything else about SSB and Manyverse, I’m interested in helping you out since our projects seem to be aligned. I would also recommend joining the Scuttlebutt community, they have quite a lot of similar discussions and perspectives over there. :slight_smile:

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Hi Andre @staltz! Thanks for coming over and introduce yourself!

I actually have a few questions about SSB technology: since each node of the SSB holds all the network’s information (if I got it right), isn’t this a problem for performance? I am thinking of a new node having to synch with an existing one, wouldn’t that take a long time? As well, I wonder about storage capacity. Is there a predefined total storage limit to SSB? If the network is ever expanding, wouldn’t the devices need to ever expand to accompany this growth?

Regarding Ham Radio, you might be interested in Pecan Pico:

a cheap lightweight APRS position tracker designed especially for small ballons which may fly for months

this device can actually transmitt images through VHF! It was developed by Sven Steudte @Svn, one of most active community members.

Hey Joaquin, good questions.

Each SSB node holds all the data from their friends, so it’s definitely not the entire SSB network. It’s a network of friends (or relationships of “trust”, if the nodes are non-human), so each node only cares about friend nodes. This mitigates the storage requirements. Overall, the storage story is not that bad, because most of the space used are blobs (images, videos, files) and these can be purged whenever you need. The non-deletable storage that SSB requires is for the log, the low-level messages stored, and this is usually under 1 GB. E.g. my log is currently 596 MB, and I have a lot of messages and friends on my log since I’m a quite popular node. A typical log would be around 300 MB. There isn’t a hard storage limit, but most normal uses of SSB would stay within reasonable amount of storage, because of Dunbar’s number. In other words, storage in each SSB node does not scale to global demands (as opposed to blockchain approaches that require each node to store everything).

About initial sync, you’re right that it can take a long time. Currently it’s one of the most important problems in SSB that we’re trying to improve. It also depends on the amount of data to be synced. If it’s an old node (e.g. 2 years old) syncing with an fresh new node, then it may last something like 20min on a WLAN connection (both peers in the same LAN). Basically it’s the time that it takes to download ~400 MB of the core log, plus the time to index the database (SSB apps do this), plus the time to download some blobs (on demand, blobs are not necessary to get started).

All in all, the network may be ever expanding globally, but locally each peer only cares about its friend peers, so devices do not need to accompany global growth.

Very interesting this Pecan Pico! I also shared this thread with the Scuttlebutt community and they were really interested in Aerocene, and its manifesto too.