Satellite communication: We are a dot in the ocean

This is blog entry posted from the field during the 2012 Phoenix Islands Marine Protected Area (PIPA) Expedition. The Phoenix Islands are an isolated island chain more than 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. They are part of the island nation of Kiribati, which partnered with the New England Aquarium and Conservation International to create PIPA in 2008. Today it is one of the world's largest marine protected areas and a UNESCO world heritage site. This voyage is part of a regular series of scientific expeditions to investigate coral health and study ecosystems and biodiversity.

Photographer Keith Ellenbogen, regular Aquarium blog contributor, is on the expedition capturing stunning underwater photos of marine life as well as the essence of life on a working research vessel.  

Have you ever wondered how these blogs are arriving to you from the middle of the Central Pacific? We showed you some of the early prep in this post, but it's quite a different experience "dancing" with a satellite dish on a moving boat, amidst the dives, the data crunching, the sample preparation, and the gear maintenance. Here's how it's done...

Ketih and Sangeeta are in the wheelhouse, setting up the blog...

While on the deck just outside, the daily dance commences. The dancing partner? The air waves of modern communication in one of the most remote parts of the world! :-)

The goal: to get the magic 3 satellites to align and the signal strength to stay steady...

Of note, we are not near any land or cities that could be identified by the machine... which greatly confuses the machine. Luckily, it (usually) manages to work anyway. 

With a compass, the sun, the stars (and oh fine, a GPS...) as our guide, we sail from island to island with only satellite communications to connect us to the outside world.

This is the view from here..... and a glimpse into how we bring to you. By dancing. :-) 

Safe seas (and happy fathers day...) from this tiny little floating dot in the ocean.


  1. Loving the pics, and interesting details on how you connect to the net!

  2. Sangeeta MangubhaiJune 25, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    Andy - it was challenging to find those satellites on a boat that was swinging around!

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