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Check Out This Amazing New Underwater Explorer
May 15, 2013
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Sea_Orbiter_2.jpg

This is the SeaOrbiter - a new, futuristic, high tech vessel that's designed to explore the world's oceans.

And the name orbiter is no accident. Not only does it look intergalactic, but like space, the ocean is a huge mass of unexplored territory.

It was designed by French architect and underwater explorer, Jacques Rougerie, with construction due to start later this year at a cost of $50 million.

At 58 metres (10 storeys) high, and sinking 31 metres under the ocean's surface, the SeaOrbiter will be a round-the-clock, year-round, mobile research lab - complete with a multimedia communications centre.

Built from recycled aluminum, it will be powered by wind and solar, and is designed to have 12 decks and a crew of 22 scientists. There will be six levels under the water to allow scientists to live and dive in a constantly pressurized environment, and obtain research data to depths of 6000 metres.

During voyages, the crew will be able to explore using smaller remotely operated submarines and robotic video cameras, go on diving missions from a launch pad, study collected organisms on board, and stream live video on the internet.

SeaOrbiter missions will be varied and exotic. Researchers will search for sunken civilizations, study climate change and look for new species in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. And there are a lot of species. SeaOrbiter_3.jpg

According to Discovery, between 700,000 and one million species inhabit the world's oceans, and incredibly, two-thirds of those have yet to be named or even described - mostly crustaceans, mollusks, phytoplankton and other small organisms.

There may even be up to eight unidentified species of whales and dolphins.

The journal Current Biology lists 1000 species of fungi alone, which gives you some idea of the incredible biodiversity. And the oceans are important when it comes to studying climate change.

According to recent data from the U.S. National Center For Atmospheric Research, warmth is spreading to even deeper ocean levels. The Center's Kevin Trenberth says that "warming rates of the waters below 700 metres appear to be unprecedented".

The SeaOrbiter will be linked to a network of satellites to study climate change by observing temperatures, the ocean's currents, carbon dioxide levels, and ocean/atmosphere gas exchanges.

Sea_Orbiter_1.jpg

It's designed along the lines of a space laboratory and is even fitted with a pressurized module, which serves as a space simulator, so astronauts can take advantage of the unique environment to prepare for missions.

The SeaOrbiter organization recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Space Agency for further experiments.

via The Guardian

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