Australia’s Marine National Facility: A floating sensor platform for big data

Ms Katherine Tattersall1, Dr Chris Jackett1, Mr Ian  Hawkes1

1CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, Battery Point, Australia


Australia’s Marine National Facility (MNF) is hosted by CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere and manages the operation of the state-of-the-art RV Investigator, an Australian government blue-water research vessel dedicated to supporting Australia’s atmospheric, oceanographic, biological and geosciences research. The RV Investigator is equipped with a multitude of sensors that map the ocean floor, measure and sample the water column and collect atmospheric measurements. The vessel is also a platform for a vast array of other marine research instruments and equipment. Ship time aboard the MNF is available to researchers Australia-wide through an annual application process.

Managing this large working platform is a complex task. One major challenge is to efficiently, elegantly and robustly handle the many data streams captured by sensors and equipment and to quickly make high quality data available to researchers. We follow streamlined data management processes including on-board data aggregation and metadata capture, secure end-of-voyage data storage and archiving, publicly available data catalogues and portals and a team dedicated to data acquisition and processing. Data management and distribution is the responsibility of the O&A Information and Data Centre (IDC). The MNF follows open data objectives as outlined in the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and is an advocate of data and metadata standards and associated software tools and processes.

This poster illustrates important elements of the current MNF/CSIRO data workflow from acquisition to publication. Key processes and data access points are highlighted to convey the broad capabilities of the MNF. More information is online at


Katherine Tattersall is a research data specialist and data architect with over a decade of experience in the marine data domain and a firm grounding in the elements of meticulous and innovative research data management more broadly. Her background in marine physical, ecosystem, fisheries and geospatial research equipped her with an understanding of what researchers need from data infrastructure and tools.

Chris Jackett is a software engineer with experience developing scientific data processing systems. He has a background in marine science and remote sensing, and has worked on data storage solutions for drone-based multispectral imagery, computational systems for the optimisation of aquacultural planning, and web application development using modern JavaScript frameworks, tools and techniques.

Ian Hawkes manages the Marine National Facility research vessel RV Investigator’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems; providing seagoing computing support; operation of various vessel scientific data acquisition systems; quality control and processing of key datasets and the delivery of associated data products. Ian has an Honours degree in Physics and has three decades of experience as a Systems and Software Engineer. He has worked on all phases of projects including proposals, identifying and analysing requirements, object oriented design, coding in C++, testing and documentation.



AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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