Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Project Overview

Principal Investigator: Duane R. Edgington, MBARI
Project Manager: Daniel Davis, MBARI

(Please read the NSF proposal for further details about this project. Additional information can be found on the 2004 projects page.)

Introduction | MOOS System Features and Constraints | MOOS Infrastructure Technology Features | The MOOS PUCK Concept | MARS System Features | Features and Components Common to MARS and MOOS | Challenges Common to MARS and MOOS


This NSF SENSORS project addresses the key technology issues of interfacing networked sensors in an ocean observatory to: 

  • Decrease labor required for preparing, configuring, deploying and supporting a wide variety of instruments,

  • Ensure that data from the system can be automatically processed, and that necessary metadata is readily available

  • Enable autonomous operation of instruments and automated event response over an observatory network

  • Provide pathways for the support of instruments not specifically developed for observatories.

MOOS Mooring Based System

For some time, MBARI has been applying state-of-the-art technologies, including distributed object, smart-network, plug-and-work, and XML, to create a uniform software infrastructure to support the development, deployment, and operation of its MBARI Ocean Observing System (MOOS), a mooring based, deep ocean observing system. The goal has been to simplify the problems of configuring, interfacing, and controlling instruments in networked observing systems, as well as simplifying access to, and management of, the data coming from such systems. This work has primarily focused on mooring based systems with potentially intermittent and limited bandwidth, as well as limited power. 

The specific goals of this new NSF SENSORS project are to analyze the infrastructure requirements for cable based coastal systems, use this to modify and adapt the infrastructure developed by MBARI for mooring based systems, and prototype and test the feasibility of this infrastructure for Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS), a cable based system to be deployed in Monterey Bay in 2005. 

The testing program proposed here, and the involvement of instrument manufacturers, users, and observatory developers at other institutions, is structured to ensure that development of the instrument infrastructure is responsive to community needs. The work proposed here would solve key interfacing and data management problems by making the interface problem a part of instrument development rather than an installation problem, and by handling existing off-the-shelf instruments in a straight-forward, easy manner. 

MOOS System Features and Constraints  (Back to top)

  • Infrastructure currently in use in several deployments

  • Being used to prototype standard puck interface

  • Mooring provides primary surface expression

  • Deployable in deep or coastal ocean

  • Limited power availability

  • Limited bandwidth (radio telemetry and satellite)

  • Highly reconfigurable, portable

  • Supports benthic nodes with optical subnetwork

  • Supports multiple platforms – AUVs, vertical profilers, etc.

MOOS Infrastructure Technology Features  (Back to top)

In conjunction with the concept of a standard puck interface (see below), a fundamental feature of the MOOS infrastructure implementation is the use of recent advances in 'smart network' technology to provide real-time reconfiguration, remote device control, and automated event detection and response within a network with limited bandwidth links (radio-frequency and acoustic). 

Smart networks also provide a capability for “plug and work” instruments, or automated device and service discovery, based on a distributed object-oriented software architecture. Whenever and wherever a device is plugged into the network, its host node uploads its service driver and metadata and announces its availability to the network. A standard software interface for obtaining information about the device is part of the infrastructure. At the same time direct access to the device is also provided. 

The flexibility for re-configurability of the system created by the use of “plug and work” is also reflected in the approach to metadata issues. Using user-friendly forms, the metadata is captured in XML and stored in the device puck along with the device service code. The XML technology provides maximum flexibility for conversion of metadata to and from a wide variety of representations. 

A fundamental principle of the design is to provide standard containers and methods for handling data and metadata while providing the maximum ability of users to define the form and content of the data itself.

The MOOS PUCK Concept  (Back to top)

The puck was developed to address these major requirements: 

  • A uniform hardware and software adaptor to enable the widest variety of instruments and devices to be interfaced to the observing system network.

  • To enable automated device and service discovery (plug and work) by providing minimal memory and processing capability not necessarily provided by the device.

  • To provide persistent memory to bind all the instrument’s metadata to the instrument itself and the data stream it provides.

PUCK in Initialization Mode

PUCK in Operational Mode

PUCK In-line Hardware Prototype

MARS System Features  (Back to top)

  • Hardware infrastructure, a 51 km cable, planned for deployment in 2005

  • Initially eight science ports, with room for expansion

  • Focused on coastal observing

  • Significant power availability (~10 KW)

  • Significant bandwidth (~100 Mbps Ethernet)

  • Permanent stationary system 

  • Supports benthic nodes with optical subnetwork

  • Can support multiple platforms – AUVs, vertical profilers, etc.

The Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS) is a joint project of MBARI, the University of Washington, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). MARS will serve as the test bed for a state-of-the-art regional scale ocean observatory, a component of the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative. MARS represents the next step toward harnessing new power and communication technologies to provide a remote, continuous, long-term, high-power, large-bandwidth infrastructure for multidisciplinary, in situ exploration, observation, and experimentation in the deep sea.

Features and Components Common to MARS and MOOS  (Back to top)

Instrumentation: Both systems must accommodate similar types of instruments. It is reasonable to expect that users can move instruments between the two types of systems. 

Platforms: Both systems must be capable of supporting the use of additional instrument platforms; AUVs, benthic substations, surface or benthic mounted vertical profilers, etc. 

Science Applications: Although each type of system may in practice be used somewhat differently, both types must be capable of long term monitoring, dedicated scientific process studies, and experimentation. 

Metadata: All the data that is required to understand and interpret the current status of instruments, their configuration, and the data they provide should be available to users on shore as well as automated system processes as soon as an instrument is deployed.

Infrastructure Challenges Common to MARS and MOOS  (Back to top)

Interfacing: Interfacing the hardware and the software of an instrument or instrument platform to an observing system needs to be simple and flexible to accommodate a wide variety of instruments. 

Configuration: Reconfiguring an observing system when new instruments or platforms are added or removed should be simple and reasonably transparent. It should not be necessary to interrupt the operation of the system or existing data streams to add an instrument. 

Data Integration and Automated Event Response: To achieve the full capabilities of a distributed observing system, it must be possible to utilize data streams from multiple sources in an integrated manner. For example, there should be a capability for a local, automated response to an event, determined by local monitoring of multiple data streams. 

Metadata: All the data that is required to understand and interpret the current status of instruments, their configuration, and the data they provide should be available to users on shore as well as automated system processes as soon as an instrument is deployed to the system.

Project Overview | 2004 Workshop | Reference Documents | Agenda | Participants | Conveners