Staying Connected While Still Being Away From It All
March 12, 2009
Being out at sea makes it difficult to stay up-to-date on what is happening
in the world and our lives, but the Information Technology (IT) group on the ship works hard to help
keep us connected.
The ship maintains an email system that transmits emails via satellite
three times a day. The satellite is expensive ($8/minute to transfer
files), so everyone is limited to about 25 kb of email per day.
Twenty-five kilobytes per day is plenty for plain text emails (it equals
about 180 pages of written text), but photos and attachments, often taken
for granted on land, are too big to send using our email system.
In the last few years, the Department of Defense and the National Science
Foundation acquired access to an Iridium phone system, which functions
similar to a cellular phone and can connect to anywhere in the world.
There is one Iridium phone on the ship, called the “morale phone,” and
it is used by the science staff, support staff, and ship crew. With so
many people wishing to use the phone, calls are limited to 10 minutes.
To stay current with media, a movie library is updated two or three times
per year, allowing the support staff and crew, who spend long stretches of
time at sea, to watch new movies. The ship receives a news feed from the
New York Times and USA Times each day, which keeps us up-to-date on current
events. The update includes all of the headlines from the newspaper and
even transmits the New York Times crossword puzzle.
— Amanda Kahn