Inner Space Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What is "Inner Space"?

"Inner space" is the opposite of "outer space". This includes the Earth's atmosphere, its surface, its ocean, and anything underground, within the earth itself.

Specifically, we use the term "inner space" to refer exclusively to those regions below the surface of the sea where light does not penetrate, typically below 100-200 meters depth.

What does the Inner Space Center do?

  1. The Inner Space Center utilizes telepresence technologies to bring ocean science research and exploration to the world in real time. We perform this service using a complex series of satellite transmitters, receivers, and servers to re-broadcast video, audio, and data streams from ships and remotely operated vehicles to the Internet and Internet2.

  2. The Inner Space Center provides a place for scientists and engineers to plan and carry out research and exploration missions. Entire oceanographic expeditions have been managed through ISC Mission Control, allowing on-shore personnel to see and hear everything that happens on the ship. They can communicate with the ship, providing instruction to technical personnel, coordinating the scientific activities, and planning ROV dives. They may even program their AUVs and other instrumentation directly from the ISC network through our firewalls and VPN tunnels.

  3. The Inner Space Center archives, processes, and quality-checks important research and exploration data. Thousands of hours of high-definition underwater footage and hundreds of terabytes of data are securely stored at the ISC. A backup copy of video is even recorded via the satellite feed in case the recording from the ship is corrupted, or in case it can't all be stored onboard. Our engineers can sift through all of the content, identifying and correcting any problems.

  4. The Inner Space Center produces high-quality educational content and provides various services for outreach. Our producers, editors, designers, and scientists can create stunning content using our partners' data, while maintaining strict scientific accuracy. Complicated data can be processed by our teams and visualized more easily as video clips or web pages, all interpreted for vast audiences. The ISC is also the hub for COSEE, a national consortium for ocean science education comprised of over 280 institutions.

What is "Telepresence"?

Telepresence refers to any technologies or systems that allow a person to see or interact with remote objects and locations, or to participate in remote events, without actually being there. The Oxford English Dictionary defines telepresence as "the use of virtual reality technology, especially for remote control of machinery or for apparent participation in distant events", or "a sensation of being elsewhere, created by the use of virtual reality technology".

For example, an ROV pilot uses telepresence when he or she pilots an ROV, as the high-definition first-person camera and controls allow him or her to see and manipulate objects on the ocean floor, up to 6,000 meters below sea level, even though they are, in reality, inside the control van aboard the ship. Every member of the online audience also uses telepresence when they tune in, as they have access to view the first-person ROV camera, as well as the control van camera, allowing them to feel simultaneously as if they are exploring the ocean floor and as if they are a member of the exploration team. Being able to communicate with the team enhances the experience even further. For more detailed explanations, see our page on telepresence technology.

What is an ROV?

ROV stands for remotely operated vehicle. These vehicles are tethered to the ships via strong cables containing fiber-optic cables, which allow the transmission of video and data to and from the ship. The pilot controls the movements of the ROV from onboard the ship, where he can see all of the ROV's cameras simultaneously.  The ROV may also be remotely controlled from the Inner Space Center.

Who are the Inner Space Center's partners?

For a complete list of our partners, see our partners page. The Inner Space Center works with a variety of government, private, and educational partners to further ocean research, exploration, and outreach.

How can I request footage or data from the Inner Space Center?

You can request footage or data by sending us a message using our contact page. Availability and cost of content retrieval depends on who originally provided the content to us, their terms of use, and when the content was recorded.

How can I book an Inner Space Center tour?

You can book a private tour for a group or RSVP for an upcoming free public tour on our tours page.

How can I book an Inner Space Center education program?

You can see a listing of available educational programs and book a program on our educational programs page.

How can I contact the Inner Space Center for other questions?

You can send us a message using our contact page. We'll determine who can best field the question and forward it to the appropriate staff member, who will then email you back personally.

How can I get in touch with a specific Inner Space Center staff member?

You can send us a message using our contact page. All inquiries will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member.

Alternatively, you can check if their email address is listed on the staff page.

How can I support the Inner Space Center?

Check the official Inner Space Center web site regularly, and get announcements on ocean science research, exploration, and education by following our Facebook or Twitter pages. Also, please consider making a donation to the ISC.

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