How do we learn about the environment we live in? We look around, we explore, we integrate ourselves with it. When we seek an answer, we emerge ourselves into that environment- deep jungles, deserts, space. We spend hours and hours using our senses.
But under the sea, this becomes hard. Because gases in the human body are replaced so quickly, a diver can spend only a couple hours at a time underwater, without risking decompression syndrome (“The Bends”).
In order to allow themselves more time underwater, scientists built “Aquarius”, the world’s only underwater home. An underwater “habitat”, Aquarius houses scientists and technicians, and affords these scientists time. They can spend nine hours at a time outside Aquarius, and stay in the underwater habitat for extended periods of time. They even have a phone and high speed internet access, to communicate with those at home.
A crew of boats stays nearby, where surface divers can join those from Aquarius in exploring the ocean.
The size of a school bus, with a opening in the floor, and marvels of technological equipment inside, Aquarius is one cool scientific tool. Even NASA thinks so, sending their astronauts down to aquarius, because this small, isolated environment comes closest to simulating the pressure of being in space, and having to work together – this similarity to Astronauts has caused those living in Aquarius to be dubbed “aquanauts.”
Coming back up to surface levels of pressure takes 17 hours, and during these times, aquanauts don’t leave the habitat. After this time, they can safely rise to the surface.
Although I don’t love water myself, I admire this feat of technology. I hope that even for those of us who aren’t sure of their love of the sea, this gives us a chance to
False Clown Anemone Fish. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 16 Dec 2013.http://quest.eb.com/images/132_1321047