This is the stuff of childhood fantasy.
Much like the Nautilus and Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s epic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the dream of staying on and in the ocean for an extended period of time to do research is finally at hand.
The 58-meter high SeaOrbiter is the brainchild of French architect Jacques Rougerie. It’s part submarine and part research vessel. The concept seacraft was inspired by the submersibles used by ocean explorers like Jacques Cousteau and Sylvia Earle.
50% of the $43 million dollar vessel will reside below the water line for constant undersea exploration. It will drift with the ocean currents and generate the majority of its own energy through solar, wind and wave power. Its multi-year journey will allow it to acquire a full sense of the world’s oceans and their key importance to our world.
The SeaOrbiter project has the support of numerous scientific luminaries including people from NASA like former Administrator Dan Goldin and the European Space Agency astronaut Jean-Loup Chretien. These organizations will help to further develop the ship’s amazing technology.
Ariel Fuchs, media director for the project is extremely enthusiastic about its potential:
“One of the first users will be the science community,” he says. “It’s designed to explore the ocean in a new way, mainly spending time under the sea, giving people the opportunity to live under the sea for a very long time, to observe, to undertake research missions, like marine biology, oceanography and climate issues.”
I’m thrilled to see this concept in the works. For me, the oceans are second only to space as the frontier that we most need to explore for the ultimate longevity of our species and understanding of the universe within and around us.
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