Beginning this week, NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) will connect students in selected schools in Iowa, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia with scientists at a field research site in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

The Space Communication Office at NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, will use ACTS to supply the primary communication links for "Live from the Rainforest," the latest segment of an ongoing series of electronic field trips to scientific frontiers. The links will include both the live video broadcast from the rainforest and a return link from the participating classrooms as well as supplementary audio, fax and Internet connections.

A series of three "Live from the Rainforest" shows will be aired on the Public Broadcasting System on April 7, 14 and 21, 1998, 1-2 p.m. EDT. The series also will be shown on NASA TV, available on GE-2, transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, with vertical polarization. Frequency is on 3880.0 megahertz, with audio on 6.8 megahertz.

Students will learn about the equipment used to explore the rainforest and the people, plants, animals and insects of the largest expanse of virgin rainforest on the planet.

Engineers from Lewis set up an Earth station at the remote site, where transmissions from the rainforest will be made over ACTS to an Earth station at Lewis. The video/audio signal from Lewis will be downloaded using a terrestrial line to the Mississippi State University (MSU) Television Center, which is connected to various schools for interaction between the students and scientists. NASA equipment at MSU will assure the signal from the participating schools will be downloaded in the proper format to be compatible with the video/audio in the rainforest.

Lewis has been demonstrating ACTS' capabilities to provide a wide-bandwidth communication link via satellite to remote locations, where other means of providing this type of communication are not available, since shortly after it was launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in September 1993. ACTS made it possible for Army reservists stationed in Haiti in December 1994 to talk face-to-face with their loved ones back home through videoconferencing. It also has been used to assist in restoring telecommunication service interrupted by natural and manmade disasters. In the field of telemedicine, ACTS technology is being used to evaluate improved techniques for providing women in remote areas with real-time diagnoses of mammograms through clear and quick satellite image transmission.

"Live from the Rainforest" is produced by Passport to Knowledge and is supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA.

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