NASA NIC Help Desk Manager
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Code 933, Bldg 28/W256
Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA
v: (301) 286-1376
f: (301) 286-5152
Research, government (experimental technology transfer); Other (national defense, humanitarian aid, global weather change)
Innovative or improved ways of doing things; More equitable access to technology or electronic information; Creation of new ideas, products, or services; Technology transfer; Local commitment to network-based activities; Volunteer contributions of time and energy
Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Video (possibly); Documentation (including net drawings); Slides/photographs; Computer graphic images, such as GIF files
Alternate telephone number:
On December 15th, Fran Stetina/NASA Code 930.2 contacted Pat Gary/NASA Code 933 concerning network connectivity and file transfer capability between NASA/GSFC and the US Air Force Global Weather Central (GWC) in support of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. Code 930.2 desired to share valuable satellite remote sensing data of the weather over Somalia with the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Weather information is vital to the USAF operation and USAF pilots access global weather information from GWC. The NASA International Data Systems Office (IDSO) has high resolution remote sensing capability over eastern Africa due to MEOTOSAT satellite (geosynchronous over Africa 0 degrees longitude) and the Japanese GMS (140 degrees East, 36,000 km directly over Papua, New Guinea).
Pat Gary tasked the Goddard Help Desk, in cooperation with the NASA Science Internet (NSI) Help Desk, to prepare a response to this request. With this limited information, the Help Desk staff was able to identify the target site (Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, net 131.7) and probe the target GWC local area network (net 192.54.133) for network interfaces indicating any possibility for connectivity. It was clear that GWC was clearly not directly reachable via the Internet and consideration of facility installation was considered.
After discussion with many U.S. Air Force (USAF) staff and Strategic Air Command (SAC) Headquarters staff over 3 days, coordination was established between Bill Yurcik/HSTX (representing NASA) and Kay Meehan/USAF. Since GWC was not reachable via the Internet (at least not the NSI portion of the Internet), other alternatives were explored including MILNET TAC (terminal access control) dial-in access using serial transfer protocols (i.e. KERMIT, XMODEM, etc…), and several combinations of double file transfers utilizing an intermediate computer with subsequent physical transfer of data via tape and/or floppy. A breakthrough occurred when Bill Fink/Code 933 discovered that the addition of a static route to a MILNET Packet Switch NOde (PSN) gateway allowed hosts on a direct MILNET-connected local area network to reach GWC. An account was established on a host at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is directly connected to MILNET, and another account at GWC to test the exchange of data via FTP (file transfer protocol) on December 18th. These tests proved successful at 4 -21 Kbits/second.
With this proof-of-concept file transfer, Code 933 staff worked over the weekend coordinating with the NSI network operations center staff to establish a direct connection between NASA/Goddard and GWC. With the registration and advertisement of net 192.54.133 to NASA/GSFC via the FIX-East (Federal Internet exchange, east coast connection between government networks and mid-level networks), direct connectivity between NASA/GSFC and GWC was established on December 19th at a rate of approximately 14 Kbit/second. The previous NRL to GWC connection is still operational and will be maintained as a backup.
The Code 930.2 weather data images are processed on a Macintosh computer for which Brian Lev/HSTX coordinated the installation and configuration of NCSA/TELNET software with Alan Lansford/SSAI. Bill Fink/Code 933, Paul Lang/HSTX, Aruna Muppalla/HSTX, and Jerome Bennet/Code 933 coordinated the TCP/IP and DECnet registration of the satellite data transfer host, MSTIDS, at NASA/GSFC. MSTIDS system administrator, Gary McBrian/SSAI, coordinated the LAN installation equipment required at GWC as well as the installation of TGV Multinet software onto MSTIDS, with the support of Jerome Bennett/Code 933 and Paul Lang/HSTX. Fran Stetina/Code 930.2 and Alan Lansford/SSAI flew to Offutt AFB and successfully demonstrated the transfer of satellite weather data over this direct GSFC <-> GWC TCP/IP connection on December 22 to Colonel Charles Holliday, Chief, Product Improvement Branch, Technology Improvement Section of the Air Force Global Weather Central.
NASA/Goddard continues to support this TCP/IP network connection in order to increase throughput if possible. We believe this effort is an excellent example of Inter-agency cooperation and teamwork, network expertise, and the use of network resources.
additional information not included previously:
(an editor will have to combine this new info to my previous submission and then edit the combined article down to 600 words, I’ll help if contacted)
the Japanese GMS satellite stands for Geostationary Meteorological Satellite 140 degrees East longititude over Papua, New Guinea
Previous to this use of the Internet to transfer image data,the image data was shipped TK 50/70 9-track/cassette tapes via courier. The goal of this Internet connection was to transfer images hourly with each image being approximately 650 Kbytes (easily achieved). The success of this Internet applications has precipitated the expedited planning of more Internet facilities between NASA and USAF GWC.
The coast of Somalia is difficult to capture because it usually is dotted with cloud formations resembling popcorn. NASA’s high resolution visible and infrared images can process a nearly cloud-free image of the entire horn of East Africa.
Pacific NASA satellite data is initially processed at the International Data Systems Office (IDSO) at Hickham Air Force Base in Oahu, Hawaii. It is then converted to HDF and GIF formats (10-1 lossless compression), archived at the University of Hawaii, and made available via the NASA Science Internet and/or NASCOM (NASA secure missions operations network). This particular Somalian weather data was transferred via NASCOM to NASA/Wallops Flight Facility and then to NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via NASCOM. My description of the story starts with the data at NASA/Goddard and follows the transmission over the Internet.