Odd, Marvelous 'SeaOrbiter' to Suss Out Ocean's Secrets

Jacques Rougerie to build futuristic 24-7 floating observatory
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2014 9:12 AM CST
Odd, Marvelous 'SeaOrbiter' to Suss Out Ocean's Secrets
Concept art for the vessel.   (SeaOrbiter)

Jules Verne, eat your heart out. Oceanographer and "sea architect" Jacques Rougerie is spearheading the creation of a sea exploration vehicle that makes any imagined before look modest. It's called the SeaOrbiter, and it just last week passed its funding goal on the crowdfunding site KissKissBankBank—Roguerie raised 70% of the money himself, and went to the public for the final 30% of the roughly $48 million total cost. The wind- and solar-powered vessel is designed to roam the water 24/7, searching for new life forms, lost civilizations, and more, News.com.au reports.

The vessel will be 190 feet tall, with roughly 102 of those feet under water. It will have space for 22 permanent residents, including pressurized quarters for deep-sea divers (or "Aquanauts"), so they can come and go without worrying about decompression. Sub-aquatic bees will swarm around the ship gathering data, while remote-operated vehicles plumb the ocean's deepest depths. There's even a pressurized space simulator for astronaut training. Construction will begin in the spring, Core77 reports, and its initial explorations will be in the Mediterranean. (In other undersea news, divers are set to explore the Indian Ocean's oldest known shipwreck.)

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