Ocean scientists used an HD television camera Sept. 28 and 29 to capture live views of an area of the sea floor 200 miles off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Known as the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, the area is a twisted segment of seabed peppered with volcanic eruptions, eerie spires and chimneys that vent water as hot as 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
The transmissions were the first from the sea floor anywhere in the world to be broadcast live in HD.
Visually Integrated Science for Interactive Ocean Networked Systems, the expedition studying how tectonic-plate interaction can support exotic and ancient microbial life forms within the sea floor, used a collection of instruments, cameras and robots to study the microorganisms.
HD video from the sea floor was transmitted from Jason II, a remotely operated vehicle, to a research vessel on the surface of the ocean via a 6mi electro-optical tether. An onboard engineering-production crew from the ResearchChannel used TANDBERG Television's HD encoder and decoder as part of the high-definition compression and transmission system onboard the research vessel. Live high-definition video was distributed via IP to selected research groups in six countries with the high-bandwidth Internet connections capable of receiving the HD feed.
An SD version of the deep sea footage was made available to the public on the University of Washington’s ResearchChannel available on the Dish Network.
The University Of Washington and the National Science Foundation organized the HD expedition.