Sunday, December 30, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Nothing says a habitat must be on the absolute bottom of a body of water. In fact, because air is so buoyant, the real challenge is keeping them on the bottom. Any air filled structure when submerged behaves very much like a balloon. So, supposing you want your hab to 'hover' at a precise depth in a much deeper lake or part of the ocean. It can be carefully weighted to neutral buoyancy and then fitted with computers that micro manage a smaller ballast tank to keep it at the desired depth, or much more simply, you can just hold it down with a tether.
This one's not intended for animals, much too small. You'll notice it's partially flooded, this was to keep it submerged; the weight is not as yet sufficient. I'm going to either grow plants in it (short grass probably) or carve a very large circular moon pool in the bottom and use it as an RC submarine hangar. The little radio controlled Graupner microsub I showed off in earlier videos would then have someplace underwater that it can surface and 'park'. What might be neat in the future is to fit it with the electronics from one of those new short range wireless charging pads for cell phones, such that the little sub can charge in its undersea garage, and never have to surface again.
Incidentally, this "tethered balloon" habitat concept borrows from an actual undersea lab of very similar design, Jacques Rougerie's "Galathee" which could, by cable and winch, raise and lower itself like an elevator. This allowed it to also serve as a decompression chamber, or to observe specific levels of the water column.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
The most valuable function of the currently under construction Sea Orbiter is, imo, the ability to deploy and recover a deep diving submersible from 50 feet below the water line. The lowest deck is an ambient pressure habitat from which divers, and the sub, can freely come and go. This eliminates the most common cause of cancelled sub missions, violent surface weather. It also means, potentially, that the Sea Orbiter will be able to transfer crew and samples between various next generation ambient pressure underwater labs around the world. The submersible could be piloted from Sea Orbiter's lowest deck to the moon pool module of the habitat and back again, as well as accepting divers from the habitat for transport to other similar seafloor labs, because they can be kept under pressure for the entire trip. This evades the need for decompression and provides a link between what would otherwise be isolated undersea research sites. In that sense, think of it as the Starship Enterprise, deploying a shuttlecraft to carry crew and cargo between outposts in space.
The ESA, Europe's equivalent of NASA, is constructing an underwater lab for training astronauts and conducting medical/marine bio research. Looks small from the outside, but the cross section reveals that it's three or four times the interior volume of Aquarius, probably the same volume as Conshelf 3 or Tektite. This is, for an undersea research enthusiast, a godsend. Between the confirmation that Poseidon Undersea Resort is moving forward, construction of the Sea Orbiter and now THIS, it's shaping up to be an exciting era for aquanauts. Some concept renders, a video tour, and under-construction photos below. As you'll notice it's designed to closely resemble a habitat lander, of the sort NASA intends to land on the Moon or Mars. It even has a down facing double door airlock to better simulate EVAs. I am particularly excited that it has a panoramic cupola identical to the one on the ISS. Should make for some stunning photo ops/footage.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
What now? Transplant it into soil? Leave it be and see how much it grows? Plant additional seeds of different types next to it? Seems like this calls for experimentation.