Wireless Applications

New NOAA Tsunameter Buoy System to Use Iridium Satellite Links

July 5, 2006

The 66 low-earth orbiting satellites will transmit pressure measurements to the agency's warning centers and support two-way data communications, permitting technicians to request data from specific buoys.


BETHESDA, Md. /PRNewswire/ -- Iridium is providing satellite data links for a new system of 31 ocean buoys that the U.S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Data Center is deploying. The NOAA ocean buoy system detects and monitors tsunami waves in the open ocean.

The second-generation Deep Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART II) system consists of pressure-sensitive tsunameters on the seafloor and buoys on the ocean surface. The buoys are equipped with an acoustic modem that receives data from the tsunameter sensors and a small data modem to transmit the pressure measurements. The Iridium constellation of 66 low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellites transmits the pressure measurements to NOAA warning centers. Using this data, scientists can issue appropriate warnings to areas that may be affected.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) is conducting testing and field service in the Pacific Ocean on the $37.5 million DART II system. NAL Research, an Iridium value-added manufacturer, is supplying the ruggedized Iridium data modems for the buoys.

"The DART II technology will make it easier and faster for warning centers to alert coastal areas in time to evacuate residents quickly," said Jack Rowley, SAIC DART manager. "The implications for saving lives are tremendous."

"The original DART I system, deployed in the late 1990s, used a high-power geostationary satellite for the data links, but the satellite's footprint limited its coverage to about a third of the Earth's surface," said Dr. Ngoc Hoang, president of NAL Research. "The DART II buoys, using Iridium technology, will provide complete global coverage."

The Iridium data link supports two-way data communications, permitting technicians at the warning centers to request tsunameter data from any specific buoy. For instance, the warning center can ask one or more buoys to transmit updates at a faster rate to improve real-time monitoring of a special area of interest.

"The DART II tsunami warning system is a perfect example of how Iridium's global satellite coverage and robust data links can provide vital public safety communications anywhere in the world—even in the middle of the ocean," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, Iridium Satellite.

"Enhancing our system with global monitoring capabilities supports our effort to facilitate widespread deployment of similar systems around the world," said Kathleen O'Neil, chief of operations branch, NOAA. "Other governments and agencies may be interested in building this tsunami detection capability in their own regions."

About NAL Research
NAL Research is an independent, privately held company headquartered in the Northern Virginia metropolitan area. The company provides advanced Iridium satellite modems and tracking terminals for the defense, research, and commercial sectors. NAL Research products are used globally in a wide range of applications, including asset tracking, search and rescue, remote sensing, and command/control of both ground and airborne platforms. NAL offers every phase of engineering services, from conceptual design to final production.

About NOAA
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is an agency of the Department of Commerce and is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.

About SAIC
Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, is the largest employee-owned research and engineering company in the U.S., providing information technology, systems integration, and eSolutions to commercial and government customers. From science to solutions, SAIC engineers and scientists work to solve complex technical problems in national and homeland security, energy, the environment, space, telecommunications, health care, and logistics. With annual revenues of $7.2 billion, SAIC and its subsidiaries have more than 42,000 employees at offices in more than 150 cities worldwide.

About Iridium Satellite
Iridium Satellite LLC is the only provider of truly global satellite voice and data solutions with complete coverage of the earth (including oceans, airways, and Polar Regions). Iridium delivers essential communications services to and from remote areas where no other form of communication is available. The Iridium constellation consists of 66 LEO, cross-linked satellites and has multiple in-orbit spares. The constellation operates as a fully meshed network and is the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world. The Iridium service is ideally suited for industries such as maritime, aviation, government/military, emergency/humanitarian services, mining, forestry, oil and gas, heavy equipment, transportation, and utilities. Iridium provides service to the Department of Defense. The company also designs, builds, and sells its services, products, and solutions through a worldwide network of more than 100 partners.


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