By Brian RC Kennedy, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
March 23 - April 5, 2018
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.