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NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer provides Live Feed for 2016 expedition

Watch the expedition live stream here! Previously recorded video is available in-between dives.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and partners have begun a three-cruise deep sea expedition that will last until July 10, 2016. According to NOAA, the purpose of the expedition is to acquire baseline information in deepwater areas to support science and management needs and to understand the diversity and distribution of deepwater habitats in and around the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument  (MTMNM).

The Okeanos Explorer sits in port, preparing for it's next mission, in this undated photograph. Photo: NOAA
The Okeanos Explorer sits in port, preparing for it’s next mission, in this undated photograph.
Photo: NOAA

The NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer is serving as the workhorse for this year’s expedition. The 223 foot former US Navy vessel is equipped with telepresence technology for high-resolution live image broadcasting, a contingent of remote-operated vehicles (ROV) capable of exploring depths down to 6,000m, dynamic positioning technology (“ship autopilot”) to maintain position while ROV’s are deployed, and a first-of-its-kind hull-mounted multibeam sonar instrument that can create high-resolution maps of the seafloor down to 6,000m. You can read all about these instruments (and the other great tech on this vessel) here.

A view of the Okeanos Explorer Control Room while ROV operations are underway. Photo: NOAA
A view of the Okeanos Explorer Control Room while ROV operations are underway.
Photo: NOAA

Quite frankly, the Okeanos the Starship Enterprise of ocean exploration vehicles and thanks to its fantastic telepresence capabilities, viewers worldwide are able to watch the exploration in real-time. The telepresence was developed, in part, by Dr. Robert Ballard. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the explorer who first located the wreck of the Titanic and is a premier authority on deep-sea exploration. The purpose and value of this type of “live science” technology is explained by NOAA,

Via telepresence, real-time video and other oceanographic data are transmitted through satellite and high-speed Internet pathways to scientists around the country.

Scientists access the live feed by standing watches in Exploration Command Centers (ECCs), tuning in to the high-definition video via Internet 2, or watching the live video on standard Internet from their home institutions. Shore-based scientists interact with the ship through a teleconference line and Internet collaboration tools. Using these communication tools, the scientists and students can contribute expertise and help guide the at-sea operations in real time, extending the reach of ocean exploration to more scientists and students than could possibly be accommodated onboard.

Actual screenshot of a beautiful stalked crinoid, likely Proisocrinus ruberrimus. Photo: NOAA
Actual screenshot of a beautiful stalked crinoid, likely Proisocrinus ruberrimus.
Photo: NOAA
A unique down-looking view of a ROV recovery at night. Carl VerPlanck captured this image by strapping his camera to a crane and extending it 30-ft above the deck. Photo: NOAA
A unique down-looking view of a ROV recovery at night. Carl VerPlanck captured this image by strapping his camera to a crane and extending it 30-ft above the deck.
Photo: NOAA

Viewers can stop by the expedition website daily for a three-camera view of the research operations as they unfold. The live images are clear and consistent and, given that this is all unfolding in real-time in the middle of the ocean, it’s a remarkable feat of broadcasting.

In between broadcasts, viewers have access to previously-recorded video and a collection of highlight videos, photographs, dive logs, and more. Teachers and other educators will also find a wealth of specially-created education materials to share with their students and guide lessons related to the broadcasts.

Bottom line: this is an incontrovertibly unique and invaluable opportunity to not only see deep sea research first-hand and witness organisms and locations that in some cases are entirely new to science, but also to participate in humanity’s collective ambition to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Watch the expedition live stream here! Previously recorded video is available in-between dives.

 

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