The Platform



So, here we are on your actual brink. My agency’s going to become a part of the military, I’ve got a president with his finger poised on the button, and you want me to walk across the park and tell him we want to hitch a ride with those very same Russians. Have I missed anything? — 2010

Oceanography is about to make a giant leap into the future of remote sensing with the National Science Foundation backing a globally distributed monitoring program (pdf).

The NSF’s Ocean Sciences Division is proposing to fund the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), an interactive, globally distributed infrastructure for the next generation of ocean sensors (pdf).

This is a Nasa-scale mission“, says Professor John Delaney, “to basically enter the inner space, to be there perpetually.” (Delany/Baross MP3 interview)

When the huge NEPTUNE Project, which is wiring up the West Coast, becomes operational, scientists will be able to listen to migrating whales, study dwindling fish stocks, spot never-before-seen microbes, watch for processes leading to major earthquakes and warn about approaching tsunami as well as pilot autonomous underwater vehicles.

John Delany’s Neptune Project has been folded into the Ocean Observatories Initiative. OOI is the National Science Foundation’s contribution to a global system of ocean observatories called Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). A $130 million construction phase for Neptune starts this year . It will measure volcanoes, currents and other activity off the West Coast using 850 miles of fiber and UAVs.

Join NPR’s Christopher Joyce and a team of scientists aboard their research vessel as they head out into the Pacific.

Listen to whales, bird songs, and insect communications (part two). Wild Sanctuary software can layer relevant recorded sounds over locations in Google Earth, and has over 3,500 hours of soundscapes from all over the world.

The OOI infrastructure would include cables, buoys, deployment platforms, moorings, junction boxes, electric power generation (solar, wind, fuel cell, and/or diesel), and two-way communications systems.

This large-scale infrastructure would support sensors located at the sea surface, in the water column, and at or beneath the seafloor. It would include the first U.S. multi-node cabled observatory; fixed and relocatable coastal arrays coupled with mobile assets.

Up to four Global Scale Nodes (GSN) or buoy sites are proposed for ocean sensing in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

High Performance Computing (HPC) is a term that arose after the term “Supercomputing“, and generally uses multiple processors linked together in a single system. Grid computing or “cloud computing“, uses nodes at different locations. Those technologies will be harnessed to deal with the vast amount of data generated by ocean observatories.

The Ocean Observatories Initiative is an NSF-funded effort to link all major ocean observing systems (pdf) using “virtual laboratories” and cloud computing to share resources.

Larry Smarr’s recent presentations (Calit2 YouTube videos), such as this one (above) from Los Alamos, explain how Calit2 and Scripp’s Center for Earth Observations and Applications, can use OptIPuter switched fiber connections for applications in geoscience and bioscience.

Microsoft officially launched Mesh Computing on Live Mesh for developers this week (videos and other coverage). Microsoft says “cloud computing“, allow resources and applications to be stored and accessed on the internet, not a PC, in the “web connected” world.

Cray and Intel announced a multi-year agreement to incorporate Intel inside future Cray server systems. Cray was selected for University of Tennessee’s NSF funded HPC computing initiative to enable petascale science and engineering using Cray XT4 also used for seismic earthquake models (seismic earthquake models).

The DARPA funded Cascade program seeks to provide cost/effective petascale systems by 2010.

Dan Reed (Reed’s blog), has joined Microsoft Research as its new director of scalable and multicore computing (Microsoft Press release). The Universal Parallel Computing Research Center (UPCRC) at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) are expected to develop a new class of applications around parallel processing.

Reed served as director of NCSA at the University of Illinois and played a key role in the development of the NEESgrid (National Earthquake Engineering Simulation grid) project and the LEAD (Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery) project (Channel 9 interview and YouTube videos).

Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard, two of the most prominent telepresence vendors, say they are thinking about interoperability. The HP Halo telepresence system is backward compatible with existing videoconferencing deployments. Cisco also offers a gateway that let’s its TelePresence system talk to legacy videoconferencing gear, but interconnecting telepresence systems from different vendors is a bigger undertaking.

The Integrated Ocean Observing System’s Regional-Scale Nodes (RSN), off the coast of Washington and Oregon, would consist of seafloor observatories with various chemical, biological, and geological sensors linked with submarine cables to shore that provide power and Internet connectivity.

In addition, there would be an integration of mobile assets such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVS) and/or gliders with the GSN, RSN, and CSN observatories.

So John Delany’s Neptune Project is getting built.

But at what cost?

Could the military take it over? A “secret room” on an ocean platform might be convenient for tapping virtually all transoceanic fiber. Are there legal and practical advantages to placing such an intercept platform in international waters?

The concept has likely been studied.

A state’s territorial sea extends up to 12 nautical miles from its baseline. The contiguous zone is a band of water extending from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline, within which a state can exert limited control of its laws and regulations.

An Exclusive Economic Zone extends to a distance of 200 nautical miles (370 km) out from its coast. A coastal nation has control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, and oil exploration. However, it cannot regulate or prohibit passage or loitering above, on, or under the surface of the sea, whether innocent or belligerent, within that portion of its exclusive economic zone beyond its territorial sea.

Several submarine cable systems are now operational off the coasts of Oregon and Washington. Active systems include but are not necessarily limited to:

Pending projects include:

TeleGeography’s Research Service has global bandwidth charts while SubOptic 07 has various presentations. Fiber optic cable placement in Oregon’s Territorial Sea is jurisdictionally complicated. Cable routes traverse the offshore waters where the proposed monitoring sites will be built.

The DOD’s Wireless Adaptive Network Development (WAND) effort provides the networking technology for the DARPA Wireless Network after Next (WNaN), which is developing the technology for ultra-large (tens of thousands of nodes), highly scalable, adaptive, ad hoc networks using $500 walkie-talkie-size radios.

Additional DailyWireless articles include Underwater MIMO, Remote Ocean Viewer, Red Button Day, House Rejects Retroactive Immunity, NSA@Home, NSA Gets Blank Check, Space Capsule, Earth Day, HiSeasNet Goes Live, Supercomputer 07, Ships Impounded for Cable Cutting, AT&T: More Transpacific Cable, Google + SingTel = Unity Submarine Fiber, Verizon Fiber Crosses the Pond, Mediterranean Submarine Cables Cut, Space Cold War, Ring of Fire Earthquakes, Intel’s Rural Connectivity Project, Visualizing the Future, The Vision Project, iGrid 2005, Big Science Projects, The Semantic Web, Supercomputer Cells, Remote Ocean Viewer, Oceanographic Dead Zone, Earth Simulator, and Subducting The Zone.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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