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Nevion transports live HD video of rarely-seen ocean life from the depths of Monterey Bay
Posted on Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flashlink fiber transport solution helps MBARI’s deep-sea research

August 30, 2010 Nevion, formerly Network/VPG, a leading video transport solution provider for broadcasters, service providers and government entities worldwide, has provided a fiber transport solution using its Flashlink product family to bring live HD video and research data from deep under the ocean to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Installed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a Flashlink frame containing ETH-1000 Gigabit Ethernet-to-fiber converters operating on DC power is submerged 3,000 feet (900 meters) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean at Monterey Bay in California, one of the most biologically-diverse bodies of water and one of the deepest underwater canyons along the continental United States. A 32-mile (52km) long fiber-optic cable connects the undersea equipment to a second Flashlink frame on the shore, which is identical except for running on AC power.

The solution provides two bi-directional Gigabit Ethernet connections between the two units for transporting HD video over IP from remotely-operated underwater vehicle cameras and telemetry data from research instruments on the ocean floor. The videos and telemetry data are used by scientists and engineers conducting deep-sea research and ocean engineering.

The installation is part of MBARI’s Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) Ocean Observatory Test Bed. With traditional oceanographic instruments on the seafloor having to run on batteries and store their own data, it’s impossible for researchers to know whether their instruments are working properly or to control them while experiments are underway. By providing electrical power and data connections, the MARS cabled observatory removes these restrictions, allowing scientists to study the ocean in new ways. The high-speed data connection allows researchers to receive large amounts of data, including digital video streams, and control and assess their instruments – all in real time.

“This installation is testament to the reliability of our Flashlink solutions and their ability to transport video over long distances in any kind of environment, and with the lowest power consumption,” said Oddbjorn Bergem, CEO, Nevion. “Designed to solve the most mission-critical signal transport applications, Flashlink performs equally well whether half a mile under the ocean or in the most demanding of broadcast environments.”

MARS serves as an engineering, science and education test bed for other ocean observatories, allowing scientists to perform real-time experiments nearly 3,000 feet (900 meters) below the surface of Monterey Bay. Its primary purpose is to provide an easily accessible, deep-water facility where researchers can test instruments of the future by giving scientists and engineers the freedom to design power-hungry sensors. It also provides an opportunity for researchers to perform experiments and collect data on the marine environment of the MARS site.

The MARS system consists of a 32-mile (52km) undersea cable that carries power and data to the main MARS ‘science node’ 2,923 feet (891 meters) below the ocean surface. The cable is buried about three feet (one meter) below the seafloor along most of its route to protect it from damage and minimize its effects on marine life. Eight different science experiments can be attached to eight nodes using underwater power/data connectors and extension cords up to 2.5 miles (4km) long, while additional experiments can be daisy-chained to each node. Each experiment may incorporate multiple sensors, sending up to 100Mbps of data through the science node and back to scientists on the shore. Scientists in turn are able to send commands back to reprogram or reset their instruments, giving them constant access to and control over their experiments.