Cool Communications at High Latitudes
Mark Foster, NASA Ames • Ray Gilstrap, NASA Ames

Scientific investigations can sometimes take researchers to very remote locations: the Northern reaches of Canada and the Antarctic continent. The IceBridge mission is using a DC-8 aircraft to take measurements of ice and snow thickness in polar regions. Rover development teams and remote drilling automation teams have benefited from the unique qualities at the Houghton-Mars Project (HMP) research station on Devon Island in Canada. Because they are so remote, these locations typically lack communication services. At times, communications may be critical to flight and deployment planning. Being able to gather key information and carry on dialogue with distant colleagues improves the field science and effectiveness of the teams.

The NASA Research and Engineering Network (NREN) group, in collaboration with the DARTCOM satellite communications group at Ames Research Center, has helped provide communications support for science fieldwork at remote locations. This communications includes data, video and voice over IP. Key equipment includes Ku band earth stations and portable satellite dishes. In addition to direct support over NREN, most deployments have benefited from transit via collaborating networks such as CalREN and NLR.

Plans for support of the HMP research venue in 2011 on Devon Island are being developed now. A temporary earth station and extensive wireless LAN with long haul bridges will support science data, VoIP and access to home institutions. As an informative update to the CENIC 2008 presentation on this topic, this presentation will summarize specific science projects and present plans for the Devon Island connectivity, based upon what has been learned from previous deployments.

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