To The South Pole On MBone: First Live Multicast Connection

April 17, 1998

BERKELEY, CA. -- The first multicast video and audio link to the South Pole officially opened for business on April 1, between the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and scientists at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The Internet's Multicast Backbone technology -- MBone for short -- allowed the link, a method far less expensive than any other for exchanging live sound and pictures between remote locations.

In addition to scientists, school kids can get into the act. Real-time interaction via MBone between students in the United States and researchers at the South Pole will be featured as part of "Live From the Poles," an hour-long television special produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Passport to Knowledge project, distributed by almost 300 public television stations across the nation and by NASA-TV at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 28, 1998 (check local listings).

Instead of sending massive amounts of data to individual routers, MBone routes real-time communications over the net by distributing and replicating the multicast data stream only as needed, thus making efficient distribution of data packets without congesting any single router. The MBone videoconferencing tools were developed by Van Jacobson of Berkeley Lab's Information and Computing Science Division (ICSD); the system's other principal creators were Steve Deering, then of Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center, and Steve Casner of the University of Southern California.

On April 1, several researchers at Berkeley Lab gathered around computer screens to exchange greetings with their colleagues wintering over at the Pole. "We have a long list of new and interesting things to ask you to do," said Buford Price of the Antarctice Muon and Neutrino Detector Array (AMANDA), kicking off the first of the weekly planning sessions scheduled to manage the project's experiments, which use instrument probes thousands of meters deep in boreholes in the polar ice.

Hardware for the South Pole link, including miniature cameras, sound pick-up gear and circuit boards, was delivered to the Amundsen-Scott Station by AMANDA's Douglas Lowder earlier this year. Deb Agarwal of ICSD worked with Maria C. Perillo Isaac to put the link into operation.

Agarwal has earlier helped configure and install MBone connections for such DOE Collaboratory projects as the remote control of Beamline 7.0 at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, a national user facility. Isaac, of the Lab's Nuclear Sciences Division, is interested in the educational potential of the new medium and has been working to help set up MBone links in her spare time.

In the MBone, Isaac sees "a great resource for kids who want real-time access to remote scientific locations." She hopes that eventually schools everywhere will be able to interact -- as some have been privileged to do already -- with astronomers at mountaintop observatories, biologists in the rainforest, geologists on the slopes of live volcanoes, oceanographers under the sea, and astronauts aboard the space station.

Carl Pennypacker, an astrophysicist who is active in the Hands-On Universe educational project, calls Agarwal and Isaac "the first two women to the Pole -- via MBone computer connection."

Pennypacker says that, although MBone is still somewhat experimental, he hopes the South Pole link will be "a prototype for the schools." Today's onscreen images are small and are usually transmitted at a slow rate, resembling a slide show more than a movie, and as yet few schools are equipped to receive the multicasts, although Pennypacker is confident the situation will change.

Nevertheless, MBone connections are unmistakably live. Among Maria Isaac's first words to the Pole were a complaint about California's El Nino-induced weather: "Too much rain." To which the comment from the South Pole was, "We don't have that problem here."

With the South Pole connection as a "proof of concept," in Pennypacker's phrase, he hopes the incentive for schools to acquire the new technology will make live science on the MBone only a matter of time.

"We were delighted to cooperate with the MBone team," says Passport to Knowledge project director Geoff Haines-Stiles, who is setting up the April 28 connection for schools, "to show that new technologies can literally take students to the end of the world . . . or anywhere else their scientific curiosity might lead."

To learn more about Live-to-Antarctica connections over the web, go to http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/antarctica2/index.html or http://passport.ivv.nasa.gov. For detailed information about MBone, go to http://www.mbone.com.

The Berkeley Lab (http://www.lbl.gov) is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.
-end-


DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related Data Articles from Brightsurf:

Keep the data coming
A continuous data supply ensures data-intensive simulations can run at maximum speed.

Astronomers are bulging with data
For the first time, over 250 million stars in our galaxy's bulge have been surveyed in near-ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared light, opening the door for astronomers to reexamine key questions about the Milky Way's formation and history.

Novel method for measuring spatial dependencies turns less data into more data
Researcher makes 'little data' act big through, the application of mathematical techniques normally used for time-series, to spatial processes.

Ups and downs in COVID-19 data may be caused by data reporting practices
As data accumulates on COVID-19 cases and deaths, researchers have observed patterns of peaks and valleys that repeat on a near-weekly basis.

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.

Storing data in music
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for embedding data in music and transmitting it to a smartphone.

Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.

Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.

Democratizing data science
MIT researchers are hoping to advance the democratization of data science with a new tool for nonstatisticians that automatically generates models for analyzing raw data.

Getting the most out of atmospheric data analysis
An international team including researchers from Kanazawa University used a new approach to analyze an atmospheric data set spanning 18 years for the investigation of new-particle formation.

Read More: Data News and Data Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.