Where's My Underwater City?
Humans have long looked to the sky and imagined inhabiting other planets. But there is also a foreign world much closer to our terrestrial homeland that has captivated our imagination: underwater.
Living underwater in bubble cities seems both possible and unattainable. In submarines, humans do survive in a watery world for stretches of time. But the idea of truly submerged cities, where you might own a home, sounds almost as fantastical as living on the moon. Not so, according to Dennis Chamberland, an undersea explorer and NASA engineer at John F. Kennedy Space Center.
Chamberland, whose underwater works is not connected to NASA, said that there are similar challenges to living underwater and outside of Earth, and yet underwater is closer than we think.
"If we look at an undersea colony, it's almost as basic as a community on the shore," in terms of the fact that you could still interact with terrestrial communities, Chamberland told InnovationNewsDaily.
Chamberland is currently planning an undersea community, Atlantica that will begin in July 2012. To begin, Chamberland and two other aquanauts, including his wife Claudia, will stay in a habitat called Leviathan for 90 days. After that, they will look to establish a manned undersea habitat off of the Florida coast that will be the first permanent undersea human colony. The permanent habitat, called Challenger Station, will be a constant pressure facility that would not involve decompression diving.
Technological issues like supplying oxygen and dehumidification are all possible to overcome, says Chamberland. They are also working on more effective, cheaper technologies to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Having adequate sources of energy , for everything from running the station to growing agriculture, is also challenging, but not impossible. The lessons learned in these contained communities could also be applicable on dry land.
"We're beginning on day one as a zero waste community," Chamberland said. "We're looking at have an overall positive impact on the environment."
Chamberland said the projects would look to monitor the surrounding environment, although the grand plan is to be far more than laboratory. He noted that he lives in a suburban bedroom community , and he leaves his neighborhood several times a day for work and errands. There's no assumption of permanence, he said, and it would likely be no different underwater. People might still take a submarine to shore to see a movie, or go to a meeting, but return home to their home under the sea.
Although building a community on the seafloor is far more expensive than a tract of suburban houses, it is a matter of resources and not technology, according to Chamberland, who estimated that within 10 years there will be a permanent human colony underwater.
"There are no technological challenges. Zero." Chamerland said. "We're ready to go."