An Autonomous Wireless Instrumentation Network for Antarctic Research

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Vexcel Corp.
1690 38th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Pennsylvania State University
110 Technology Center Building
University Park, PA 16802
Institution POC


In November 1998 a network of seismic stations was deployed by S. Anandakrishnan (now at Penn State) and others in West Antarctica. These autonomous stations returned state-of-health data via satellite, and stored high-volume instrument data for later retrieval. The satellite links demonstrated a novel and sophisticated application of technology to the problem of retrieving in situ data from harsh remote terrestrial environments. Using these Antarctic seismic stations as a starting point, we propose to make a second innovative leap in remote instrumentation by creating intelligent, self-organizing instrument networks capable of recording, storing, processing, and returning high volumes of geophysical data from the field. These instruments will be built from low-cost COTS components, will intercommunicate via wireless microwave protocol, and will return data through a high-rate telemetry system. As such the proposed instrument network will drastically reduce the costs of field instrumentation and data recovery. The notion of an intelligent autonomous array of sensors has gained in popularity and momentum in the scientific world with new technological advances. We believe this is the opportunity to implement such a concept, with considerable but surmountable technical challenges, direct application to NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, and tremendous potential for future commercial application.