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Underwater Space Station Unveiled! Climate Change Implications for Earth's Final Frontier


Table Of Contents:


1.0 Deep Space Vs. Deep Oceans

2.0 A Fuzzy Deep Ocean Floor - Needing more Exploration and Research

3.0 Why Care? The Deep Ocean's positive impact on Earth Cooling and Carbon Capture

4.0 The World's First Permanent Underwater Space Station

5.0 Conclusion

 6.0 Sources






1.0 Deep Space Vs. Deep Oceans


We know very little about the deep oceans beneath the surface, and as wild as it seems, we actually have explored a comparable amount of the visible universe to our own oceans!  


Crazy, right? That translates to roughly ONLY 5% explored and charted deep seas as well as a 4% exploration of the visible universe. 




Light, satellites, and pressure.




I didn't realize just how awesome and powerful the Hubble Telescope truly is, nor did I realize our capacity as a species to harness light waves.  


According to Nasa, "In December of 2012, astronomers announced a Hubble Space Telescope discovery of seven primitive galaxies located over 13 billion light years away from us. The results are from survey of the same patch of sky known as the Ultra Deep Field (UDF)"


To even wrap your head around 13 billion light years a challenge in itself, and the implications are even more staggering.  When we see an object, planet, or star that's 13 billion years away, it means that light took 13 billion years to get to us.  Since the universe is thought to be only 13.7 billion years old, effectively we are looking back in time and seeing that object, planet,  or star as it appeared 13 billion years ago!



Now, let's compare our ability to look at space compared to water with the naked eye. 


1000 meters.


That's it. In space, with our naked eye, we can see 2.6 MILLION LIGHT YEARS away! 


C'mon? Seriously?


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  


"Sunlight entering the water may travel about 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the ocean under the right conditions, but there is rarely any significant light beyond 200 meters (656 feet).

The ocean is divided into three zones based on depth and light level. The upper 200 meters (656 feet) of the ocean is called the euphotic, or "sunlight," zone. This zone contains the vast majority of commercial fisheries and is home to many protected marine mammals and sea turtles.

Only a small amount of light penetrates beyond this depth."


So, although technically light can penetrate up to 1,000 meters deep, in reality, it rarely penetrates deeper than 200 meters.


Even worse!


2.0 A Fuzzy Deep Ocean Floor - Needing more Exploration and Research


Let's be clear - we can, and have mapped the entire ocean floor using satellite and sonar technology, however, this process only maps around 10-20% at best and we still have MUCH less detail than the planets in our own solar system!


Jon Copley, Associate Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Southampton. explains, "So we do actually have a map of 100 percent of the ocean floor to a resolution of around 5 kilometres (3.1 miles).

From that, we can see the main features of its hidden landscape, such as the mid-ocean ridges and ocean trenches – and, in that sense, the ocean floor is certainly not "95 percent unexplored".

But that global map of the ocean floor is admittedly less detailed than maps of Mars, the Moon, or Venus, because of our planet’s watery veil."



Jon Copely elaborates further, "If our questions are: "What does it look like down there?" or: "What’s going on down there?", then the area that has been "explored" is arguably even less than the 0.05 percent mapped so far at the very highest resolution by sonar."


Now that we have established how poorly our oceans, and especially the deep seas, have been explored; one might beg the question:


 Whoooooo cares?


Well, anyone that cares about Global Warming and Climate Change!  


3.0 Why Care? The Deep Ocean's positive impact on Earth Cooling and Carbon Capture


Ocean and Climate Platform explains, "The Deep Sea plays a major role in climate change mitigation. By storing a large part of the CO2 produced by human activities and by absorbing the heat accumulated by greenhouse effect, the Deep Sea slows down the warming of surface waters and land. Thanks to this immense mass of water, climate change is still “bearable” for most species on Earth."


Without the deep seas, we would likely not be here, nor would Earth have the biodiversity it does today.  


In addition to slowing the warmer of surface waters and land, the deep seas may have an even greater utility for us: carbon capture!


Greenhouse gases, such as methane, are captured, stored, and then turned into minerals by phytoplankton rather than releasing them into the atmosphere and worsening climate change for all of us.



Ocean and Climate Platform elaborates on this process further, "In addition, Deep Sea ecosystems capture huge quantities of carbon. For instance, on the continental shelf, microorganisms play a major role in sustainable storage of carbon produced by phytoplankton, but are also filters for methane formed by this fossilized matter. By using methane as energy, these microorganisms transform this greenhouse gas, which is much more powerful than CO2, into minerals. This process prevents greenhouse gases from resurfacing and accelerating climate change."  


As mentioned, we still haven't explored or charted the vast majority of the deep ocean, and we are still learning about the complex and fragile ecosystem, as well as the implications of climate change or any other type of disruption on this ecosystem.



4.0 The World's First Permanent Underwater Space Station

Now that we have established the importance of further exploration and of the oceans, especially the deep oceans, we introduce the concept for the worlds first underwater space station, the Proteus!



 This underwater space station will be located on the ocean floor off the island of Curaçao, close to Aruba.  It will be approx. 4,000 square feet, which is ten times the size of the only other underwater research lab, called Aquarius and built in 1986 and stationed in the Florida Keys.


It will house up to twelve researchers, and through not having to constantly resurface, they estimate to be able to do over 30-40 times the amount of oceanic research by cohabiting the underwater space station.  Similarly, they can remain inside the station for days or weeks at a time without ever needing to resurface. 



Although there have been small facilities such as Aquarius in the past, the vast majority were built only for single missions in the 1960's through governmental agencies such as NASA's Sealab expeditions. 


Leading the project is Fabien Cousteu, who comes from a family that is no stranger to ocean exploration and discovery.  His grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, was a famous naval officer, ocean explorer, and inventor of the Aqua-Lung. His father, Jean-Michael Cousteau, is a French oceanographic explorer, environmentalist, educator, and filmmaker.




According to FastCompany, this entire project will cost $135 million, and Cousteu and his organization are looking for a combination of public and private sector funding.  


Other benefits of the space station other than not needing to resurface regularly.  Better quality data, in real time.  


Ecowatch explains, 

"Proteus' onsite lab will facilitate the processing of organic samples in real time, rather than specimens rapidly degrading or dying on their way to the surface, the FCOLC release noted, and could lead to cleaner data. Proteus will also house a full-scale video production facility to provide continuous live streaming for educational programs."


5.0 Conclusion


Although the project is still in its infancy and the concept stage, the importance of further deep sea ocean exploration is vital to further our understanding of environmental science and climate change. 

With only a very small amount of the oceans overall mapped in detail, we are still vulnerable to ripple effects of any disruption of this fragile ecosystem.  Additionally, we may discover an exciting new marine life species, or find a valuable mineral or plant that can lead to the cure of a diseases or have other positive health or pharmaceutical benefits. 

And although perhaps not as "sexy" as outer space, the ocean is much, much more important, especially now, in regards to better understanding our planet and mitigating climate change and other natural life support system failures.  
"Ocean exploration is 1,000 times more important than space exploration for — selfishly — our survival, for our trajectory into the future," Cousteau said, reported CNN. "It's our life support system. It is the very reason why we exist in the first place."


Given the dangers (many of which we still don't know the full extent of) microplastics, there is a strong chance we could learn even more about them on the ocean floor and in deep waters.


The time is NOW to explore Earth's final frontier: Deep Oceans.





 6.0 Sources,10%20million%20light%2Dyears%20away.,Ultra%20Deep%20Field%20(UDF).

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