Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Send Innovative Technology to Antarctica to Speed Polar Research

24.09.2008
Environmental scientists studying the world's shrinking polar ice sheets will soon get a substantial boost in computing power thanks to IU's Polar Grid Project.

Funded by a $1.96 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Indiana University and Polar Grid partners Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) and the NSF's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), headquartered at the University of Kansas, are poised this week to deploy a collection of customized computational resources to Antarctica that will allow scientists -- both on site and remotely -- to more securely and efficiently process data during polar field expeditions.

"The news we've seen out of Greenland and Canada in recent weeks is alarming. Scientists say ice sheets in existence for thousands of years are deteriorating rapidly and breaking apart," said Polar Grid Project principal investigator Geoffrey Fox. Fox is director of the Community Grids Lab, part of Pervasive Technology Labs at Indiana University, and also chairs the IU Department of Informatics. "It is critical to provide polar scientists with access to advanced computing technology during field expeditions; it will help them work more efficiently as they strive to gain a better understanding of the problems facing our planet -- and will allow them to move more quickly toward finding solutions," Fox said.

Starting Sept. 26, the Polar Grid equipment will be flown by commercial carrier to Port Hueneme, Calif., to be received by the NSF's official cargo system. From there, the equipment will travel by cargo ship to New Zealand, where it will board a U.S. military plane bound for McMurdo Station, Antarctica. At McMurdo Station, the equipment will be unloaded and staged for a second military air lift to the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Camp, where it will be driven a distance of approximately 190 miles to its final destination, a research camp to be established on Thwaites Glacier.

After completing the long trek to Antarctica, the equipment will be used to support an extensive research expedition expected to begin in November and running through February 2009.

In the past, data collected during this type of expedition could not be evaluated or processed until scientists returned to their home labs at the close of an expedition. The Polar Grid Project will help scientists in Antarctica speed the time between data collection and scientific discovery by allowing them to begin processing ice sheet data collected from sensors and aerial and surface radar while still in the field. This will allow the scientists to identify problems with data collection and adjust experiments as necessary, to ensure that each expedition yields the highest possible quality of data. The deployed equipment also provides ample data storage and backup to prevent loss and damage of irreplaceable data.

Equipment being sent from IU to Antarctica includes: computing clusters; servers; a storage array; laptops; satellite transceivers; and networking and testing equipment. In addition to the equipment being deployed in the field, the Polar Grid Project is also providing two high performance computing clusters -- one at IU and one at ECSU. These clusters, which will be integrated into the NSF's national network supercomputers called TeraGrid, will be used to perform in-depth analysis on data collected during field expeditions.

All Polar Grid equipment bound for Antarctica will be shipped and protected from harsh polar elements in commercially available Pelican cases and specially designed "ruggedized" cases developed by IU.

"One of the biggest challenges was determining how to keep very sophisticated computing equipment safe and functional in harsh weather conditions," said Matt Link, director of Systems for University Information Technology Services' Research Technologies division. Link manages the IU team that assembled the Polar Grid equipment. "We had to work directly with manufacturers to design cases that will stand up to extreme cold, winds, snow -- all that Antarctica has to offer," he said.

Link was part of a team of IU and ECSU technologists that traveled to Greenland over the summer to deploy Polar Grid equipment for use in two smaller-scale field expeditions that concluded in August 2008. The Greenland equipment was used to process data collected by aerial radar mounted on an airplane. The plane made four-hour data collection flights twice daily for the length of the expedition, yielding a staggering 12,000 gigabytes of data on the ice sheets and the bedrock below.

Polar Grid equipment was used by the CReSIS field team to generate images of the ice and bedrock that were sent back to Kansas for further examination by CReSIS engineers and scientists. Based on the results they processed in the field, scientists were able to make adjustments to the radar and sensors, in order to gather more data and more accurate data on areas of the ice sheet that showed the greatest change.

"The Greenland expedition gave us a great trial run," said Link. "It allowed us to get the equipment running smoothly in a real research environment before shipping out more equipment for the longer Antarctica expedition. Scientists using the Polar Grid equipment in Greenland made significant progress this summer, so we're very excited to see the difference this equipment will make for research teams heading to Antarctica."

Link described working in Greenland this summer as an unforgettable experience for him and the team of IU technologists.

"It's clear from recent news that the world has some big environmental challenges to overcome," said Link. "But scientists are working hard to help us understand and meet those challenges. It felt great to be right there on the front lines in Greenland, helping those scientists do their job. And to see the natural beauty of our Polar Regions first-hand -- it was just amazing."

For more information on the Polar Grid Project, view a seven minute video at http://www.iuinfo.indiana.edu/bem/productions/polargrid/PolarGrid_Video.html. Rights to rebroadcast all or portions of the video may be obtained by contacting Indiana University.

The Polar Grid Project is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on grant number CNS-0723054. Pervasive Technology Labs is supported by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. Opinions expressed in these materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Daphne Siefert-Herron | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.indiana.edu
http://www.iuinfo.indiana.edu/bem/productions/polargrid/PolarGrid_Video.html

Further reports about: Antarctica CReSIS ECSU Greenland Grids NSF Polar Day crystalline ice sheet specimen processing

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate change weakens Walker circulation
20.10.2017 | MARUM - Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften an der Universität Bremen

nachricht Shallow soils promote savannas in South America
20.10.2017 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>