By Doug Ramsey
San Diego, CA, September 28, 2005 -- For the first time, live high-definition images of active thermal vents on the ocean floor were available as an IP-based feed Sept. 27 from 2-3:45 p.m. PT. Weather permitting, live images will be available again Sept. 28 and 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. PT.
This feed came directly from the ocean floor by way of the research vessel Thomas G. Thompson. The ship is on site at a research expedition of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the Northeast Pacific Ocean, 200 miles off the Washington-British Columbia coast. This unprecedented live, HD video broadcast from what has been described as the “Yellowstone of the deep sea” epitomizes the next generation of research ? in which data and images collected by scientific instruments are immediately available across Internet networks. Direct observation of giant earthquakes, cavorting marine mammals, erupting volcanoes, massive landslides, brilliant blooms of microscopic life-forms and a host of equally fascinating processes, creatures and phenomena can be brought into laboratories, classrooms and living rooms by way of the Internet. These images were available over the Internet in HD multicast to selected research groups and sites in six countries capable of handling the high-bandwidth Internet data.
“This 20Mbps MPEG2 HD video stream is definitely the most-capable imaging medium in existence for viewing and sharing the unparalleled deep seascapes festooned with luxuriant and exotic life-forms that thrive on volcanic activity while living in the shadow of death from scorching 700°F vent fluids billowing out of the seafloor centimeters away,” stated University of Washington professor of Oceanography John Delaney and co-leader of the expedition with UW professor Deborah Kelley.
A live HD stream was also transmitted to the iGrid 2005 conference using ResearchChannel’s iHDTV software.
The expedition uses three HD cameras located on the seafloor, on the ship and on land in a classroom setting. Internet multicast viewers felt as if they were present on the VISIONS ’05 Research Expedition: They experienced live underwater images and narration by scientists at sea, on the ship and on land in real time.
This IP-based feed is an important step in transforming the way research is conducted. As Delaney said, “It is the result of an exciting collaboration with resources from ResearchChannel, the National Science Foundation and the W.M. Keck Foundation. We could not have done this type of program with HD via satellite even two years ago.” He continued, “This program is emblematic of the rapid and nonlinear changes in both scientific insights and technology-based capabilities that are literally transforming our perceptions and interactions with ocean space.”
These transmissions were also broadcast in standard definition on ResearchChannel Sept. 27, giving the public access to incredible, first-ever video images of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Weather permitting, additional live standard-definition transmissions are scheduled to air on ResearchChannel Sept. 28 and 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. PT and can be seen as live webcasts at www.researchchannel.org/visions05.
Partners in this effort are the National Science Foundation, the UW College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences and School of Oceanography, UWTV, ResearchChannel, NOAA, NEPTUNE Canada, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Pacific Northwest Gigapop, PacificWave and CANARIE, Canada’s advanced Internet development organization.
VISIONS ’05 exemplifies the transformation that is underway in the field of oceanography. VISIONS ’05 — which stands for Visually Integrated Science for Interactive Ocean Networked Systems — is a five-week multidisciplinary research expedition to the underwater volcanoes of the northeast Pacific on the University of Washington Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson. A total of 55 scientists from the United States and Canada are onboard for this expedition. K-12 science teachers from throughout the U.S. are contributing to the research as part of the REVEL Project: Research and Education: Volcanoes, Exploration, Life.
ResearchChannel is a nonprofit media and technology organization that connects a global audience with the research and academic institutions whose developments, insights and discoveries affect our lives and futures. ResearchChannel was founded in 1996 by leading research and academic institutions so they could share the work of their researchers with the public while collectively participating in advanced distribution and interactive technology experiments. Programs are shared in their original form, unmediated and without interruption. Today, more than 50 institutions participate as members and affiliates, and that number continues to grow.
Through cable and satellite distribution, ResearchChannel is available to more than 21 million U.S. households. The ResearchChannel website, with users in over 70 countries worldwide, provides programs on demand and through a live webstream. The online video library houses more than 2,100 full-length programs.
About the UW School of Oceanography
The School of Oceanography, part of the College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Washington, explores the world and its complex ecological systems. The School seeks to understand those processes which shape our oceans by understanding a much broader set of intellectual horizons. The School attracts a rich variety of individuals, yet builds a close community of students and faculty. Our research and education opportunities will attract theoreticians, problem solvers, computer specialists, field enthusiasts and those with a passion for learning.
The NEPTUNE is an ocean observatory effort that is building an extensive network of experimental sites. These sites are connected to and powered by 2,000 miles of fiber-optic/power cable on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate. NEPTUNE technology represents the next generation of ocean research and will provide continuous remote access to the extreme environments found on the seafloor. Once completed, the NEPTUNE fiber-optic/power cable network will make it possible to transmit real-time images of three-dimensional ocean and seafloor environments both to shore and over the Internet.
The International Grid (iGrid) collaborative event showcases ongoing global collaborations in middleware development and applications research that require high-performance multi-gigabit networks. The iGrids are organized every two or three years by institutions, organizations, consortia and National Research & Education Networks who also participate in the Global Lambda Integrated Facility. Overall planning responsibilities for iGrid 2005 are being handled by the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Calit2 at the University of California, San Diego, in cooperation with the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, SURFnet, University of Amsterdam, and CANARIE.