Giant buoy will research life in the seas

The SeaOrbiter will house 18 scientists. Image: Jacques Rougerie Architect

With 30 of its 50 metres below water, French marine architect Jacques Rougerie’s SeaOrbiter lab will allow scientists to observe underwater life 24 hours a day for months at a time and provide opportunities for sampling ocean water at different spots.

In addition to many observation windows, the pressurised lower levels will have airlocks where researchers can put on diving gear or get into manned subs and enter the water. Remote robotic video cameras and autonomous robotic subs will also allow scientists to capture images from the deep.

The lab is designed to drift along ocean currents unpowered. A roughly three metre scale model of the lab was tested in 2005 in a wave tank. After some modifications, the model proved that SeaOrbiter could handle waves nearly 15 metre tall without collapsing. Final technical studies begin soon on the full-size version, which will have room onboard for 18 scientists. Rougerie hopes to launch the vessel’s first mission in 2012 in the Mediterranean Sea.

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  1. Seems to be asking for trouble having it drift around unpowered. Some of the ships cruising through the seas are less than appropriately manned on watch, especially outside shipping lanes.

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