Inner Space Center

History of the ISC

The Inner Space Center (ISC) opened at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography in 2009. Connected to Internet2, the ISC captures, displays, and disseminates high bandwidth streams of video, audio, and data in real time. The ISC's Mission Control facility is based on the NASA model, where teams of scientists and engineers communicate with astronauts in real time and monitor the technical systems onboard the orbiting Space Shuttle or International Space Station.

More than 30 years ago, Dr. Robert Ballard was at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution when he first envisioned the use of telepresence technology to facilitate ocean exploration. Dr. Ballard knew that telepresence would make it possible for scientists around the world to participate in live undersea exploration from shore. He also knew that telepresence could be used to motivate the next generation of explorers to prepare them for and excite them about science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM).

Dr. Ballard's vision of telepresence-enabled exploration was first published in National Geographic Magazine in December of 1981, and today, thanks to the citizens of Rhode Island and other partners such as NOAA, National Geographic, and the Sea Research Foundation, the dream has come true at the Inner Space Center.

For the ISC programs, the remote platforms are oceanographic ships and remotely operated vehicles systems that are exploring the depths of the world's oceans. The ISC also works closely with several partner organizations to develop and support real-time telepresence-enabled exploration projects, disseminate video footage and oceanographic data, and expand educational programming.