Exploration Project of Opportunity

Examples of a few of the previously completed Exploration of Opportunities projects onboard Okeanos Explorer.

Examples of a few of the previously completed Exploration of Opportunities projects onboard Okeanos Explorer. Left: Deploying the Salinity Snake during Tropical Expedition 2015. The opportunistic project tested the Salinity Snake, a newly developed technology to measure sea surface salinity. Middle top: The Continuous Plankton Recorder is returned to the deck of the Okeanos Explorer after collecting plankton for over 300 miles during a 2010 expedition. Middle lower: A device called a Manta Net was tested during a 2010 exploration cruise to sample seawater at the air-sea interface for plastics. Right: Deployment of HARP (High-Frequency Acoustic Recording Package) mooring during a 2016 expedition near Wake Island. The moorings are used as part of long-term monitoring to track cetacean occurrence in U.S. waters throughout the tropical Pacific. Images courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) created an Exploration Project of Opportunity (EPO) process to optimize ship time, particularly while sailing in remote and hard-to-access regions of the world's ocean. The EPO process enables scientists and engineers to request special, limited-scope projects to supplement NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer expeditions. Such projects will not, except in highly unusual circumstances, require OER funding or additional shiptime. Typical projects will support OER’s missions and will be conducted according to NOAA’s open data requirement.


OER Support

OER support for EPOs consists of limited access to small amounts of ship time. Scientists and engineers submitting requests must cover all other costs associated with the project. Extra berthing space on the Okeanos Explorer is very limited, and any berthing necessary to conduct an EPO will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Selection Process

All submitted EPOs will be reviewed by OER staff and affiliated personnel. OER normally responds to EPO requests within 30 days of submission. Criteria for selection include OER mission relevance, scientific merit, logistics, and the EPO’s ability to be conducted without negatively impacting the ship’s main mission.

There is no guarantee, real or implied, that any EPO request will be approved. Consistent with NOAA’s open data requirement, information about accepted EPOs will be made available to the public upon request. Any extenuating consideration of proprietary information must be communicated to OER when the EPO request is made.


To Apply

Please complete this form to submit a project for consideration.

Though EPO projects ideas may be submitted at any time, submission at least six months in advance of sailing is generally required.

Questions can be addressed to oceanexplorer@noaa.gov.