November 21, 2005
For the first time, three radio
telescopes distributed around the world will be connected via
dynamically provisioned dedicated optical circuits for an electronic
Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (e-VLBI) observation. Internet2
announced this scientific and networking achievement at the first major
demonstration of its nationwide Hybrid Optical and Packet
Infrastructure (HOPI) testbed, during the SC.05 conference held in
Seattle. The demonstration marks a critical
milestone in dynamic or "on demand" optical networking that can support
even the most extreme applications used by the global research and
education community today.
Leveraging the HOPI infrastructure together with the NSF-funded
DRAGON testbed, the telescopes located in Westford, Ma., Greenbelt,
Md., and Onsala, Sweden, will be dynamically linked via dedicated
low-latency optical circuits to a central data correlator and
simultaneously transmit multiple gigabits-per-second of data during a
20-minute observation. The team will also attempt to connect to a
fourth telescope in Kashima, Japan, during the demonstration.
Historically, radio astronomy data was recorded on magnetic tape or
disk at each site and shipped to the central processing location for
"VLBI is one of the most powerful techniques available for the high-
resolution imaging of distant radio sources in the universe and for
making accurate measurements of the motion of the earth in space," said
Alan Whitney, principal scientist at the MIT Haystack Observatory in
Westford. "These capabilities also allow scientists to
measure such things as continental drift and to calibrate the orbits of
GPS satellites to enable more accurate position measurements on the
surface on the Earth. Advanced optical networks like HOPI and DRAGON,
will undoubtedly open new doors for radio-astronomy observations and
As a part of Internet2's mission to design and deliver an advanced
network infrastructure to meet the emerging needs of the research and
education community, Internet2 has built the HOPI nationwide testbed to
investigate next-generation network architectures that combine the best
qualities of optical and packet technologies. The testbed is a model
for the future of Internet2's high performance Abilene network which
serves as a platform for both experimental networking applications as
well as stable production IP services.
"The HOPI testbed has far-reaching applications in the scientific,
engineering, and medical arenas which have come to require far more
sophisticated network and resources than those previously available,"
said Rick Summerhill, co-chair of the HOPI design team and Internet2
director of network research, architecture and technologies.
"Internet2's HOPI investigation represents a new paradigm in networking
that goes well beyond traditional production services of today. In
doing so, we hope to catalyze a new era of advanced applications which
at this point have only been imagined."
Not only will the demonstration highlight the capability to
provision on-demand light paths within an administrative domain, but
it also proves for the first time, the ability to provision those
optical circuits across multiple network administrative domains for
global data transmissions. Utilizing DRAGON-developed inter-domain
Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS) capabilities, which
provides control plane capabilities, automated end-to-end circuit
provisioning, and management of network resources, the optical routes
were seamlessly connected across scientific, HOPI and DRAGON domains.
The paths also crossed UKLight, SURFnet, NorthernLight, Nordunet,
SUnet, JGN2, StarlLight, GIG-EF and BOSnet.
"We believe the control plane technologies DRAGON has developed and
integrated into HOPI pulls together a number of efforts within the
R&E community and the international Internet standards bodies to
show that these dynamic hybrid network architectures are indeed viable
and of great value to the scientific and academic communities," said
Jerry Sobieski, lead coordinator of the HOPI Testbed Support Center and
project manager for the DRAGON Project. "This demonstration opens the
door for both significant advances in radio astronomy and geodesy as
well as establishes a foundation on which the global networking
community can expand the scope and availability of these capabilities."
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