Living Underwater - How to Make an Underwater Research Laboratory - Project SeaCAMEL
Living underwater and working submerged poses unique engineering challenges, similar to visiting outer space. Indeed, there is enough similarity between missions to the International Space Station and living in an underwater habitat, that NASA astronauts train at Aquarius. This module will examine Aquarius as an underwater outpost, and provide an overview of the habitat from the inside out. Life support systems, communications, living space, “physiological housekeeping”, and food preparation will be examined during an interior tour, followed by a swimming tour of the outside of the habitat, the quadrapod upon which it sits, the gazebo and high pressure air storage used as an emergency shelter if the habitat became uninhabitable, the umbilical to the Life Support Buoy, and the diving equipment used by the aquanauts. This classroom will also discuss the scientific benefits and physiological challenges of saturation (habitat) diving, including the need for a 17 hour decompression at the end of any Aquarius mission.
Dr. Mark Patterson, a marine scientist from VIMS, and veteran habitat user, will welcome everyone to Aquarius, and address a group of graduate students at his home institution over an Internet video connection. He will then give a quick overview of the remaining 5 classroom module to be broadcast live Monday evening, Tuesday (2 classrooms), and Wednesday (2 classrooms). Students from VIMS will ask Mark some questions and then he will turn the interior tour of the habitat over to Mr. Jim Buckley, Habitat Operations Manager. Jim will provide a walking tour of the interior engineering systems of the habitat, and when he arrives at the wet porch, the entrance to the ocean, he will introduce Capt. Phil Renaud (USN, ret.), the Executive Director of the Living Oceans Foundation, and Dr. Annelise Hagan, Chief Scientist of the Foundation, both first-time aquanauts. They will take students on a diving tour of the exterior of the habitat and its engineering systems, with Dr. Hagan giving a short introductory description of the biological and geological setting of the Aquarius habitat.