Huge Sea Lab Deploys Deep-Sea Internet & Robots
The Ocean Observatories Initiative team loads the Global Hybrid Profiler on Research Vessel Oceanus for the At Sea Test off the New England Coast.
CREDIT: Tom Kleindinst | Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
A $770 million project has begun to lay fiber-optic cables on the seafloor and set up robotic stations off the coasts of South America and North America. Its goal is to remotely collect data about the ocean life, currents, chemistry and seafloor earthquakes for the coming decades.
The huge Ocean Observatories Initiative would set up the equivalent of an undersea Internet to collect and transmit data across six station sites — allowing marine scientists to keep a proverbial finger on the pulse of the oceans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for years on end. A feature story in Discover Magazine details the beginnings of a project from aboard some of the first expeditions to set up the worldwide network.
A taste of the project's scope emerges in the details. It will require ships to lay hundreds of miles of undersea cables, swarms of floating sensor buoys, and sensor-carrying robots capable of crawling up and down wires strung between the seafloor and surface.
By comparison, the robotic expedition to search for the undersea wreckage of Amelia Earhart's airplane might almost seem like a cinch.
Source: Discover Magazine