Sound Metrics Corp is pleased to participate in Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 Project. The team will be utilizing an ARIS 3000 and DIDSON Diver Held to record and share the Mission’s many projects.
Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 – breaking new ground in ocean exploration and honoring the 50th
anniversary of the monumental legacy left by Fabien’s Grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who is credited with creating the first ocean floor habitats for humans and leading a team of ocean explorers on the first attempt to live and work underwater. Based twice as deep as the original Cousteau Conshelf Two expedition in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary aboard Aquarius, the only underwater marine habitat and lab in the world. Fabien and his team of aquanauts will be the first mission of this length to take place in Aquarius and will concurrently pay tribute to his Grandfather’s Conshelf Two mission by expanding the Cousteau legacy by one full day for a total of 31 days. Using live, real-time 24/7 updates on multiple new technology channels, Fabien’s team will expose the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath, while highlighting the human-ocean connection within the lens of exploration and discovery.
A SHORT HISTORY OF UNDERWATER LABS
by Claudio Paschoa, June 18, 2014, Marine Technology News
In 1957, Project Genesis, led by Dr. George F. Bond, and supported by the US Navy, paved the way for underwater habitat development by proving that humans could overcome the complications of deep diving and spend extended time at depth by saturation diving. Dr. Bond’s early experiments involved exposing rats to increased pressure with various gases, including oxygen, nitrogen and helium. By the early 1960s he was testing effects of saturation on humans.
The results of this pioneer research were fundamental to propel the construction of the world’s first underwater human habitat, Conshelf I (Continental Shelf Station One), developed by a team working for Jacques Cousteau. It was built in 1962 and placed 10m (30ft) below the surface near Marseilles, France and was home to two aquanauts for seven days. Conshelf II, built in 1963, was a more ambitious test of saturation diving. It had a main compartment at the same depth as Conshelf I, where six aquanauts spent one month. However, it also had a deep cabin, where two men spent a week at 30m (100ft), allowing their bodies to become fully saturated with a helium breathing mixture. They also had a hangar for a submersible known as the Diving Saucer making it the first time a submersible could be operated from an underwater base. Conshelf II was located in the Red Sea.
The development of Conshelf III, located in the Mediterranean, near Cap Ferat lighthouse (between Nice and Monaco), sought to make the habitat more self-sufficient. When the six aquanauts descended to 102.4m (336ft) in 1965, they stayed for three weeks, running tests and performing industrial tasks on a mock oil rig, with limited contact with the surface. The U.S. Navy’s SeaLab I, II and III followed in 1964, 1965 and 1969 respectively, setting records for aquanauts’ length of stay. NASA teamed up with the Navy, the Department of the Interior and General Electric in 1969 to launch Tektite I, off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands, in which a research team saturated for a record-breaking 58 days. In 1970 Dr. Sylvia Earle led the first all-woman aquanaut team to Tektite II. Tektite was the first undersea habitat to employ scientists to explore the ocean rather than focus entirely on the physiology of diving and living at depth.
To date, more than 65 undersea marine labs have been built and operated around the world. The only underwater habitat still operating is Aquarius, located in a “research only” area of the Florida Keyes National Marine Sanctuary. Aquarius is owned by NOAA, currently operated by Florida International University, and is home to scientists who study there at two-week intervals from April through November, as long as hurricane season allows. Currently a team led by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau is in the midst of Mission 31, an expedition that breaks new ground in ocean exploration. Mission 31 intends to broaden Jacques Cousteau’s original experiment by one full day and 30 more feet of saturation. It is broadcasting live on multiple channels from Aquarius and exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of living and working underwater.
Four researchers, including two students from Florida International University
, will descend on the Aquarius Reef Base
June 1 to take part in Mission 31
, led by ocean explorer and documentary filmmaker Fabien Cousteau.
Cousteau will be joined by FIU marine science
students Andy Shantz and Adam Zenone, along with onboard technicians Mark Hulsbeck and Ryan LaPete from FIU’s Medina Aquarius Program. This will be the second mission to Aquarius for Shantz and the first for Zenone. Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Grace Young, Northeastern University researcher Liz Magee, and cinematographers Kip Evans and Matt Ferraro will round out the aquanaut team, which will be divided into two research segments lasting two weeks each. Cousteau, Hulsbeck and LaPete will remain submerged for the entire mission.
Fabien Cousteau visited the Aquarius Reef Base in 2012. He will return to the underwater research facility in June to embark on a 31-day mission.
Cousteau, first grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau, will spearhead the research and education outreach mission in honor of the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s Conshelf Two mission.
The FIU students will conduct experiments for ongoing research at FIU that explores how coral reef ecosystems will respond to climate change, pollution and fishing. They will study the basic biology and physiology of the corals and sponges on the reef. They also will investigate how seawater chemistry is influenced by coral reef organisms and nearby ecosystems including the deep ocean, seagrass beds and mangroves. In addition, Shantz and Zenone will conduct experiments to determine how important the large predatory fish – prized by fishermen and disappearing from reefs around the world – are to maintaining healthy coral reefs.
“The research being done by FIU students during Mission 31 is not only on the cutting edge of marine sciences, but it is really important for ensuring healthy coral reefs here in Florida and around the world,” said Mike Heithaus, executive director of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society
. “By taking advantage of the gift of time that Aquarius gives us, the students will be able to accomplish months and months of work in just a couple of weeks. Even better, they will be able to inspire kids around the country by talking to them live from the bottom of the ocean during live chats.”
During their time underwater, the FIU students will deploy new state-of-the-art equipment that can provide enhanced understanding of the marine ecosystem in the area. This includes the new scientific wideband echosounder provided by Norway-based Konsberg Maritime called SIMRAD, which allow researchers to quantify fish density near Aquarius, and a high-resolution imaging sonar called ARIS provided by Sound Metrics Corp, which will enable the scientists to non-invasively measure prey responses to predators both day and night. Also, Australia-based Myriax has provided advanced processing software that will enable the scientists to combine sonar and video data sources to help evaluate changes on the reefs during the 31-day mission.
The world’s only underwater research lab, Aquarius is deployed 63 feet beneath the sea off the coast of Key Largo in Florida and allows scientists to live and work underwater for extended periods of time. Since 2013, it has been operated by FIU. Mission 31 will be the third saturation mission for FIU’s Medina Aquarius Program and the longest saturation mission in the history of Aquarius.
For more details on Mission 31, visit mission-31.com.
View footage from the Expedition:
Aquarius Captures Nurse Shark
Divers During Aquarius Expedition
Aquarius Captures School of Fish