Gulf of Mexico Technology Demonstration


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Gulf of Mexico Technology Demonstration: Mission Plan

The sun sets off the starboard bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer after she leaves port in Pascagoula, MS, to start the Gulf of Mexico 2014 expedition.

The sun sets off the starboard bow of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer after she leaves port in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to start the Gulf of Mexico 2014 expedition. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Gulf of Mexico 2014. Download larger version (304 KB).

March 23 - April 5, 2018

Brian RC Kennedy
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

The Gulf of Mexico Technology Demonstration is the first operational cruise on board NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2018. During this cruise, we will be trying something we have never tried before: Conducting our first emerging technology demonstration projects. From March 23 - April 5, we will work with three new technologies.

First, working in partnership with Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration, Research & Technology (CIOERT), we will test their new midwater profiler system. This system is designed to explore the distributions and dynamics of organisms ranging from microbial scales (microns) to large nektons (meters)in mesopelagic zones (from about 200 to 1,000 meters, 656 to 3,280 feet, depth) of the ocean. To accomplish this goal, the CIOERT team will be integrating numerous sensors into one or two packages. The sensors include digital holographic microscopy, a Spatial Plankton Analysis Technique (SPLAT) camera, imaging lidar, and several others.

The second project is in partnership with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center to test a new technology they are working on called the Instrumented Tow Cable. This cable looks similar to a standard CTD cable and has the same strength, but by taking advantage of advanced understanding of fiber optics, the Instrumented Tow Cable is able to measure temperature along the entire 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) of cable simultaneously. This technology will provide researchers with a vast improvement in ocean sensing and may be able to even record the passing of internal waves in real time.

The final project is in partnership with the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) at the University of New Hampshire to test a new Simrad EK80 split beam sonar in an operational environment and test its seep detection ability in conjunction with the Okeanos Explorer’s multibeam and EK60 sonars.

 

Mission Log Updates

April 3: Finding a Needle in a Haystack: Calibrating the <em>Okeanos Explorer</em> Split-beam Sonars

April 3: Finding a Needle in a Haystack: Calibrating the Okeanos Explorer Split-beam Sonars

Have you ever tried to find a needle in a haystack? I haven’t, but can imagine it is similar to trying to calibrate the Simrad EK60 split-beam echosounder using a calibration sphere. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer has five EK60 transducers of varying frequencies (18, 38, 70, 120, and 200 kHz) mounted on the hull of the ship in the scientific transducer fairing.

April 1: Instrumented Tow Cable

April 1: Instrumented Tow Cable

As part of the Gulf of Mexico Technology Demonstration, novel temperature profiling and acoustic array acquisition methods are being tested using fiber optic sensing through a collaboration between the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, the Center for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs, and Silixa.

March 28: Water Column Mapping on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

March 28: Water Column Mapping on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer

During expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, we continuously collect acoustic data with our sonar systems. Throughout the Gulf of Mexico Technology Demonstration, we are using a new type of fisheries research sonar to visualize the underwater world in better resolution than ever before.

March 25: Midwater Profiler System Testing

March 25: Midwater Profiler System Testing

Dr. Mike Twardowski, Research Professor at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University reports from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in the central northern Gulf of Mexico regarding testing new technology to study the “twilight zone” of the ocean.

 

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