Inner Space Center Supports Two Expeditions


The URI GSO Inner Space Center (ISC) supported two ships streaming live high-definition video from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) working in two very different parts of the world; the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer exploring the mid-Cayman Rise region of the Caribbean for hydrothermal vents, and simultaneously, the E/V Nautilus exploring the Black Sea for ancient shipwrecks.

For the expedition at the Mid-Cayman Rise, most of the science team was stationed in Rhode Island for the first time. An international team of scientists worked from a shore-based Exploration Command Center (ECC) in a classroom located upstairs from the ISC for the duration of the NOAA cruise on the Okeanos Explorer. The ECC enabled connectivity between the ships at sea and shore through live streaming video and Internet-enabled intercoms. A console with three video screens displayed all of the video feeds streaming from the ship, and an Internet-enabled intercom system allowed direct communication among ROV operators, scientists on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, and other Exploration Command Centers. Having the majority of the science team ashore allowed many experts to participate without taking up the limited space on the ship.

The watch team in the Inner Space Center’s mission control room monitored three video feeds from Okeanos Explorer as well as live streaming video from E/V Nautilus—the Ocean Exploration Trust’s ship that is conducting ROV operations and searching for ancient shipwrecks in the Black Sea.

The vision of using satellites and high bandwidth Internet connections to bring data and images from the bottom of the ocean to shore in real time—a concept called telepresence—was conceived more than 25 years ago by Dr. Robert Ballard.  The application of this incredible technology to operate between ships at sea and shore-based centers was developed over many years through partnerships between NOAA, the University of Rhode Island, and the Institute for Exploration.  The Inner Space Center is the technical hub for all of the audio and video from the ships.

Live streaming video from undersea explorations, as well as mission blogs and background information are available at and