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When marine explorer Bob Ballard and his team found the ...

Posted on Jun 01, 2004 by Doug Howell
Tags: imported
When marine explorer Bob Ballard and his team found the Titanic nearly 20 years ago, it was a mission of discovery. In June 2004, Ballard will return to the site, this time on a mission of preservation. Since its initial discovery, the Titanic has been deteriorating much faster than predicted. Ballard and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will attempt to determine what changes have taken place because of natural processes and what may have been caused by human visits to the wreck site. Several Internet2 members are collaborating to bring the work of these scientists live to classrooms, marine sanctuaries, and museums worldwide—where visitors will be able to view the live video and interact with the team at sea. A pair of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), launched from the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, will gather images and data from the site of the wreck 12,500 feet below. A satellite system on the research vessel will send a real-time stream to VBrick Systems network video appliances located at Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration in Connecticut where it will be streamed live in MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video formats over the Abilene Network to locations including schools in Connecticut, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Mote Marine in Florida, Lamphere Schools in Michigan, Pier Wisconsin, the Seacoast Science Center, and the Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography, where Ballard serves as professor of oceanography and director of its Institute for Archaeological Oceanography.

The Inner Space Center at URI features a collection of plasma screens that replicates the science workstation aboard the research vessel. From the Inner Space Center, researchers can talk with the shipboard scientists and technicians and request images at various resolutions for examination. In the 6 April 2004 issue of EOS, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union, Ballard describes how Internet2 could change the way scientists conduct deep-sea research. "Instead of being restricted to one or two scientists working for a few hours within the small confines of a human-operated vehicle," said Ballard "scientists using remotely-operated vehicles connected to Internet2 could spend an unlimited about of time on the bottom and share, in real-time, their observations with colleagues around the world."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a mission partner and an Internet2 member. "As the nation's ocean agency, NOAA has an interest in the scientific and cultural aspects of Titanic," said Fred Gorell, spokeman for NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration. "The science of this mission is to learn more about why and how quickly, natural and human factors are contributing to the deteriorating of the ship. The knowledge gained will be applied to the study and protection of other shipwrecks and submerged cultural resources," he said. "We also want to share knowledge with scientists and students on a real-time basis."

VBrick Systems is a frequent collaborator with Mystic Aquarium, where Ballard is president of the Institute For Exploration, and has supported previous expeditions. According Richard Mavrogeanes, VBrick President, "One of the joys of the Internet2 is that it interconnects other networks that increasingly provide similar capability. As a result, I suspect there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of viewers worldwide returning to the Titanic with Ballard over Internet2."

To view the live event, VBrick has made a special Internet2 viewer available on (please note that certain broadcasts are embargoed from viewing by the general public).