You think you have wireless connectivity problems? Imagine being 63 feet below the surface of the Atlantic, with hurricanes overhead and buckets of data to stream from the seafloor to an orbiting space station. That's just a day at the beach for Aquarius, the world's only operational sea lab, a joint project of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
Each day, the Florida-based lab streams live video of the reef via wire to the top of a 30-foot buoy on the surface.
From there the video is broadcast to a ground station in nearby Key Largo and sent across the Internet. The challenge was finding a wireless antenna powerful enough to transmit huge amounts of video but sturdy enough to withstand the weather, says marine specialist Dominic Landucci. The lab found one in Orthogon Systems' OS-Gemini integrated wireless solution, which can transmit a blistering 43MB of data per second with virtually no signal loss, even in high seas.
Because the undersea lab's environment is strikingly similar to that found on the international space station, it plays a key role in NASA research.
Thanks to OS-Gemini, Aquarius was able to set up a videoconference link to the space station and to a hospital in Canada, allowing doctors to test telerobotic technology while performing surgery on a simulated patient to prepare for emergencies.