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The JASON Project

The JASON ProjectEco-Photo Explorers is devoting this web section to help promote the valued services that the JASON Project is doing by stimulating and developing children's knowledge in science. 

What is the JASON Project?

The JASON Project is the brain child of renown oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, who founded the JASON Project in 1989, after receiving thousands of letters from children wanting information about his discovery of the RMS Titanic. The JASON Project is dedicated to fill this yearning for knowledge and to have teachers and children take part in scientific expeditions around the globe with the use of an interactive telecommunication network. 

The JASON Project is administered by “The JASON Foundation for Education” a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, and is supported by an extensive group of sponsors. Its mission is to excite and expose students to science and state-of-the-art technology. It also  provides professional development for teachers through the use of an interactive telecommunication network. Sounds like a lofty goal, but the JASON Project has been achieving this goal since the start of their first expedition “JASON I: The Mediterranean Sea” back in 1989.

Each year the JASON team sets out for a two-week scientific expedition to a remote place in the world. At this location, an elaborate interactive telecommunication network (Telepresence) is established between educational, research, and cultural institutions (PINS) from around the globe. 

Primary Interactive Network Site - (PINS)

PINS serve as local hubs to the JASON network, where all activities between the students and the remote science team take place. Activities include online access and a live video and audio satellite link, where the (PINS) can interact with scientists as well as other students on site. Also the ability to remotely control various equipment like cameras or underwater ROV’s may be available at some chosen (PINS). These hubs will host approx. 60 hours of broadcast time for the two week expedition. 

Another key educational component of the JASON Project is the development of the Student/Teacher Argonaut Program. This program will offer thirty six students and six teachers the opportunity of a life time, the chance to work side by side with project scientists and other technical personnel at the expedition site. By becoming part of the team, students and teachers act as role models as well as translators for the other students back at home viewing the expedition via “Telepresence” from the comfort of their chairs. The lucky few that are chosen to become JASON team members, are the result of a long and competitive selection process. 

To really understand how the JASON Project can be so successful, one might ask three questions; 

  1. What equipment and resources are needed to communicate from the expedition site (somewhere in the world) to all the (PINS)?
  2. What type of signals are used with this equipment?
  3. How are these signals transmitted?

Before the expedition can take place, the JASON team with a staff of engineers and technicians use their expertise to design an interactive network that will be used with the upcoming expedition. Because these broadcasts can  take place anywhere in the world, each remote site must be evaluated every year. Some equipment from past expeditions could be re-used, but the logistics of integrating these systems may be to totally different. The communication network that JASON uses can transmit and receive three types of information. 

  • Audio: sound from remote areas at the expedition site. 
  • Video: live images from land, sea and underwater cameras. 
  • Data: statistical information in chart and/or graph format.

Of the many ways information can be exchanged, the Hard-Wired (point-to-point cabling), Line-of-Sight Communication Systems (satellite and microwave), and Over-the-Air (television, radio, and cellular telephone) are of most importance to the success of the JASON Project.

Hard-Wired System

A hard-wired communication system can be either made up of copper or fiber optic cables, or can be the combination of both. These cables carry signals from one place to another. Copper cables are made from a metal alloy and carry information as electrical pulses. Fiber optic cables are made from very pure high quality glass and can transmit the same information in the form of light pulses. Either type of cable can transmit the needed information, but if possible, fiber optics is the preferred medium when long distances are involved. 

Other Organizations
“Bringing people closer to science, thru modern day technology”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California is another non-profit institution that is embracing this new use of technology. The aquarium is always looking for ways to excite the public about science. The use of this modern day state-of-the-art technology will bring visitors “live” interpreted CCTV coverage from an Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) as it explorers the depths of the Monterey Bay area. The program was so well received, it won the 1993 Education Award of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. 

How is this accomplished?

From deep beneath the waves, an (ROV) transmits video to its mother ship (the Pt. Lobos Research Vessel) via a fiber optic tether. Once received, the video from the (ROV) as well as the ships audio is sent to a microwave antenna on top of the ship and beamed to a microwave relay station on shore.  This relay station then re-directs the microwave transmission and sends it to the aquarium and to the Monterey Bay Research Institute. At the aquarium, visitors can then view “live” broadcast two afternoons a week or view taped broadcasts if the research vessel is not in operation. 

As more institutions and organizations discover the many uses of this technology in education, people of all ages will become closer to science and will become more aware of what is happening in their world. The hope, is that from these “live” interactive broadcasts, the children of today will become excited and compelled to get more involved in science and use this knowledge to make the future a better place.

Please email all questions or comments with this site to Technical Support.

- Support#form


Last Modified: December 03, 2005

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