A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

NOAA and the Institute for Exploration

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and The Institute for Exploration have been combing the waters searching for ancient mysteries and unearthing new phenomena. Central to their recent missions has been the RTS® intercom system that provides unified communications from the world‘s most remote locations.

One of the latest expeditions that NOAA and the Institute for Exploration collaborated on was the Secrets of the Gulf Expedition.

A ground-breaking expedition, featuring more than a dozen partners, kicked off February 27, 2007 with VIP and student tours of the U.S. Navy‘s nuclear powered research submarine NR-1 and its surface support vessel, SSV Carolyn Chouest. A media event on March 1 heralded the beginning of the expedition, which left the port of Galveston March 2nd and returned on the 10th.

Crew members on land were able to keep in contact with their seafaring counterparts with a RTS® Digital Matrix Intercom system. Utilizing an advanced trunking system with VoIP protocols, RTS® was connected into the existing data network for seamless integration. The systems aboard the ships were connected via satellite uplink to the corresponding station on land, which enabled realtime communication. This was achieved with RTS® RVON VoIP solutions.

“It provides seamless communication as necessary.” said Tim Salisbury, a NOAA crew member on the mission. “One of the best features is selective communication. You can choose who talks to whom. Another added benefits was that we could login remotely to the intercom system.“

The RTS® trunking system consists of an RTS® model TM-2000/MTM-2000 and one or more RTS® model ICP-2000 interconnection panels, depending on the number of intercom systems to be trunked. A backup TM-2000/MTM-2000 may also be added to prevent downtime in the event of a failure of the main master control unit. When both main and backup control units are used, an RTS® model SWP-2000 switch over panel is required.

A sophisticated communication system does not have to be difficult to use. The RTS intercom system is designed to be simple and straightforward to use.

“We could teach our scientists to use it with no problem,“ Tim says. “It‘s good simple equipment.”

The expedition built on previous work coordinated by the sanctuary and had several different, yet complementary, missions. Sanctuary researchers explored the deeper water low-relief ridges and scarps that connect the various banks along the continental shelf in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including two of the three banks that comprise the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Their mission was to observe and document plants and animals that utilize these ‘hidden highways‘ between the banks to determine how the sanctuary may be affected by events that occur outside its boundaries. University of Rhode Island researchers, led by Dr. Robert Ballard, explored the same areas for evidence of ancient Map

showing ancient TX and LA shorelines shorelines and the people who may have lived there.

RTS® intercom systems have been used in several of Dr. Ballard and NOAA‘s previous missions including Aegean & Black Sea Expedition, and the famous Titanic Expedition.

Meanwhile, in the shallower waters of the sanctuary, researchers investigated connections on the coral reef cap, including manta ray movements, conch populations, and parrot fish predation of corals. Immersion Presents, a private organization, aired 5 broadcasts of the mission each day into classrooms and informal settings such as Boys and Girls Clubs. Students at the viewing sites around the country had an opportunity to ask questions of the scientists on board the vessel. Individuals from across the country followed the expedition from the comfort of their homes through live feeds on the internet, daily mission logs and background information provided on several websites.

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