1994 Arctic Ocean Section
-- Communications and Data Management --
Special Communications Solutions
The unique environment of the deep Arctic requires special communica-
tions solutions, especially with an expedition of the complexity of AOS-94.
Two of the special communications systems developed for and used on AOS-
94 were the Internet e-mail system and the inter-ship communications system.
Providing Internet e-mail service on polar expeditions poses special problems
as the ship proceeds north of the range of standard geosynchronous commun-
ications satellites. Members of the Polar Sea's communications team explored
a number of options in preparation for the expedition. The solution chosen
was to use the Lincoln Experimental Satellites (LES) to link with the Univer-
sity of Miami ATS Satellite Control Facility at Malabar, Florida.
The two Lincoln Experimental Satellites, LES-8 and LES-9, were devel-
oped by MIT's Lincoln Labs for the Air Force and operate on the military
UHF band (225400 MHz). Both LESs follow inclined geosynchronous or-
bits, moving 17.8 north and south of the equator each 24 hours. The Polar
Sea used LES-9 while it was north of the equator, which provided at least four
hours of access each day.
Using the installed Navy Satellite Communications System equipment,
the Polar Sea used data packet technology to send and receive information
with a minicomputer at University of Miami's site in Malabar, Florida. The
minicomputer provided Internet access for e-mail and file transfer, using the
standard Internet file transfer protocol (ftp).
Aboard the Polar Sea, scientists and crew members prepared outgoing
e-mail as text files on floppy diskettes. E-mail from scientists on the Louis S.
St-Laurent was initially delivered on floppies by helicopter and later by the
inter-ship communications system described below. Incoming e-mail was
printed and delivered to the recipients.
The Internet e-mail connection allowed scientists to communicate with
colleagues ashore throughout the expedition. In one case the ability to com-
municate by e-mail allowed the scientists and technicians aboard the Polar Sea
to successfully troubleshoot a problem with their equipment. This meant that
they were able to conduct their tests without interruption.
The connection was also used to download ice imagery from the National
Cdr. Michael Powers was Executive Officer of the USCGC Polar Sea.