September 21, 1998 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced two major awards over five years to Indiana University and the University of Tennessee to lead international high performance research and education network connections between the United States and the Asia Pacific Rim and Russia. The two universities will be responsible for establishing these networks to support worldwide scientific, research and educational collaborations that require high bandwidth communications.
"These awards will help create a high-speed Global Information Infrastructure," Vice President Al Gore said. "They will also accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by linking scientists, research facilities, supercomputers and databases."
NSF Director Rita Colwell said: "Today, we celebrate two new giant steps in 'interconnectedness.' With connections like these, the expansion of information systems really constitutes a new 'Age of Exploration.' This age is made possible by computational power, instant communication, vast databases and extensive analytical capability."
These networks will enable researchers from the University of California at San Diego to remotely acquire and process tomographic data from a sophisticated electron microscope at the University of Osaka in Japan. Researchers from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will use these networks for cooperative training in nuclear materials protection, control and accounting. Collaboration between researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in Tokyo will uncover the secrets of the spin structure of the proton. Robotics laboratories at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Moscow State University will use the networks to support their programs developing robotics for use in construction and hazardous environmental restoration operations.
With its $10 million award, Indiana University and its Asia Pacific partners will establish TransPAC, from the NSF's very high-performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS) to the Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN). Initially this will involve networks in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia. The main networking infrastructure for the connection is provided by two of the world's major international carriers: AT&T and Japan's Kokusai Denshin Denwa, Co. Ltd. (KDD). Principal Investigator for the IU award is Vice President for Information Technology Michael McRobbie.
"TransPAC will enable many U.S. and Asian research partners to develop new network-based collaborations in a broad range of disciplines, including astronomy, molecular biology, high energy physics, medicine and computational science. Indiana University is pleased to be leading this effort," said Indiana University President Myles Brand.
The TransPAC connection will be co-funded by the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), one of the key organizations for implementing policies of Japan's Science and Technology Agency (STA).
"TransPAC is critical to the advancement of many scientific and research collaborations between Asia Pacific institutions and U.S. colleagues, and we are most pleased that this network is operational," said JST Vice President Kazuo Saito. He also noted that such partnerships will greatly expand and enhance scientific knowledge and will contribute to the economic development of the region. JST will provide more than $6 million dollars a year to support the TransPAC circuit.
The University of Tennessee and its Russian partners (Moscow State University, the Friends & Partners Foundation, and Russian Institute of Public Networking) have established the MirNET Consortium. They will use the $4 million award to the University of Tennessee to establish a connection from the vBNS to the emerging Russian high performance networks (currently in Moscow and St. Petersburg and being expanded to Russian scientific centers in Siberia and elsewhere). Principal Investigators for this award are Joe Gipson, director of Telecommunications and Network Services and Greg Cole, director of the Center for International Networking Initiatives at the University of Tennessee.
"Improving international relations, distance learning capabilities, and opportunities for collaboration between our top scientists and educators are important priorities for our university. The MirNET program will provide new support for these priorities and complement the many initiatives the University of Tennessee has developed with Russia over the last five years," said University of Tennessee President Joseph Johnson.
The Ministry of Science and Technologies of the Russian Federation is co-sponsoring the MirNET effort with a $2.5 million commitment for the life of the project. Among other responsibilities, the ministry promotes and manages international science and technology links, such as the MirNET infrastructure, to support an increase of international collaborative activity.
The TransPAC and MirNET networks will both connect to the vBNS through the Science, Technology and Research Transit Access Point (STAR TAP) in Chicago, Illinois. The vBNS, begun in 1995, is a federal investment of $50 million in a five-year project with MCI Telecommunications Corporation. University connections to this sophisticated network are evaluated by a peer review process and approved based on scientific and technical merit. Expected to remain several steps ahead of commercially available networking, the vBNS currently runs at 622 million bits per second and has begun a transition to operation at 2.4 gigabits per second (2400 Mbps).
Launched in 1997, the STAR TAP anchors the vBNS international connections program and is a persistent proving ground for international high-performance networking. A significant number of high performance international research and education networks now connect to U.S. networks at the STAR TAP, and several new connections will be made before year's end.
Editors: for more information, see: http://www.friends-partners.org/friends/mirnet/home.html and http://www.transpac.org/
The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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