NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Evolving Models Enabling Remote Science Participation via Telepresence

Monday, 15 December 2014
Kelley Elliott1, Jeremy Potter2, Catalina Martinez3, Webb Pinner4, Craig W Russell5 and Nicola Verplanck5, (1)Acentia/2020 Company, LLC, Falls Church, VA, United States, (2)NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Silver Spring, MD, United States, (3)NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Narragansett, RI, United States, (4)Capable Solutions, Wakefield, RI, United States, (5)NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Seattle, WA, United States
Since 2005 NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) and partners have tested and developed uses of telepresence to extend ocean exploration expeditions to shore-based scientists and students in real-time. Telepresence increases the potential pace and scope of ocean exploration by enabling experts to join an expedition from anywhere, providing unlimited access to intellectual capital, while simultaneously expanding the reach of ocean science expeditions to public audiences worldwide. “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration”, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, is the first and only federal vessel purpose-outfitted for conducting telepresence-enabled ocean exploration. As a platform for testing new technologies and methodologies, her primary operating paradigm focuses on using telepresence to enable the majority of expedition scientists to participate and guide explorations from shore in real-time. Between 2010-2014, NOAA and partners implemented different models to conduct telepresence-enabled ocean exploration on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, all with the majority of the participating expedition scientists located on shore. These expeditions tested different scientist participation models, communication technologies, operating procedures, internet video streams, data distribution methods, and internet-based collaboration tools, and provided varying levels of real-time access to ongoing expeditions. Each expedition provided new insights into what makes remote science participation “work”, and identified challenges that remain to be overcome. This presentation will provide an overview of the different methods and tools used by NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer Program to enable remote science participation in expeditions over the last five years, highlighting successes, lessons learned, and challenges for the future.