The SeaOrbiter is part submarine, part research vessel and has been in the planning stages for 12 years. Now construction of the US$52.7 million vessel is scheduled to begin in October, and could be on the seas by late 2013.
The vessel will be 58 metres high, with 50% of it underwater, allowing scientists constant access to underwater study.
Designed to drift with ocean currents, the vessel will generate the majority of its power for life-support systems and propulsion to avoid other ships and storms from renewable energy, including solar, wind and wave power. With two-thirds of its 170 feet (or 51m) designed by Jacques Rougerie underwater, the building has come a long way before finally gaining construction approval for October this year. To be fit for the 2013 launch, the project has had to overcome technical and modeling issues on the one hand and institutional and financial obstacles on the other.
However, the team managed to persuade everybody for the last 5 years that the $52.7 million in funding will be well spent: scientists are set to live for quite some time in this lab in order to study marine biology, oceanography and climate issues. And this is important because the ocean retains around a quarter of all carbon emissions and plays a big role in counteracting global warming.
Funding has been obtained for the $52.7 million undertaking, which will produce an endless amount of data on global warming and marine biology around the globe.
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