Affiliations: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., MS 300‐123, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA Tel.: +1 818 354 3212; Fax: +1 818 393 3302; E‐mail: [email protected] | Department of Astronomy, Mail Code 105‐24, 1200 E California Blvd., California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA Tel.: +1 626 395 4097; Fax: +1 626 568 9352; E‐mail: [email protected] | Communications Research Laboratory, I.A.I., 4‐2‐1 Nukui‐Kita, Koganei, Tokyo 184‐8795, Japan Tel.: +81 42 327 7513; Fax: +81 42 327 6825; E‐mail: [email protected] | P.O. Box 60163, Pasadena, CA 91116, USA Tel.: +1 626 794 1360; Fax: +1 626 398 1208; E‐mail: [email protected]
Abstract: In 1993, a proposal at the Japan–US Science, Technology, and Space Applications Program (JUSTSAP) workshop led to a subsequent series of satellite communications experiments and demonstrations, under the title of Trans‐Pacific High Data Rate Satellite Communications Experiments. The first phase of this was a joint collaboration between government and industry teams in the United States and Japan that successfully demonstrated distributed high definition video (HDV) post‐production on a global scale using a combination of high data rate satellites and terrestrial fiber optic asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) networks [1–3]. This was followed by the Phase‐2 Internet Protocol (IP) based experiments and demonstrations [4–7] in tele‐medicine and astronomical distance education, using another combination of two high data rate satellites and terrestrial fiber optic networks. This paper describes the Phase‐2 remote astronomy experiment in detail. This experiment established a heterogeneous ground‐ and space‐based network between Japan and several sites in the US, which was used by students, scientists, and educators to provide real‐time interaction and collaboration with the 14‐inch Telescopes in Education (TIE) telescope and associated data archive. The remote astronomy activity demonstrated collaborative observation and distance education at multiple locations around the globe and the transparent operations of distributed systems technologies over a combination of broadband satellites and terrestrial networks. The use of Internet Protocol related technologies allowed the general public to be an integral part of the exciting activities, helped to examine issues in constructing a global information infrastructure with broadband satellites, and afforded an opportunity to tap the research results from the (reliable) multicast and distributed systems communities. In this paper, we describe the network infrastructure at both the technical and user levels, review the operation of the experiment, and summarize our lessons learned. We find that such networking, while still somewhat complex to construct on highly distributed scales, can provide educators and students with a unique collaborative environment which greatly enhances the educational experience.