NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer Program: Three Years of Telepresence Enabled Ocean Exploration

Meme Lobecker and Adam Skarke
Physical Scientists

NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER)

Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, 3:00pm
Chase 130

In August of 2008, NOAA commissioned Okeanos Explorer, the nation’s only federal vessel dedicated to exploration of the planet’s largely unknown ocean. With the ship and associated Okeanos Explorer Program, NOAA introduced a new paradigm for systematic telepresence enabled ocean exploration explicitly designed to generate scientific hypotheses. Employing high-resolution multibeam sonar, a deep water remotely operated vehicle, and satellite telepresence technology, Okeanos Explorer allows NOAA to foster scientific discoveries by identifying new targets in real time, investigating those targets shortly after initial detection, and then transmitting resultant information to shore for immediate collaboration with scientists at exploration command centers around the world. The subsequent transparent and rapid dissemination of information-rich data products to the public ensures that new discoveries are available to experts in relevant disciplines for research and analysis soon after they are made. This seminar presents a brief overview of the Okeanos Explorer Program and its affiliation with the University of New Hampshire Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping Center followed by a review of its first three field seasons including lessons learned, goals realized, and future opportunities created.