The depths of space and its mysteries fascinate mankind for millennia. Again and again succeed researchers new insights into the mysteries of the universe. To apply only the moon now to be better explored as much of – about 90 percent – of the deep sea. But in recent years the views of science increasingly depend on the largely unknown space worlds oceans. New technologies to close the gaps in our knowledge about the processes in the oceans.
Some 50 expeditions undertook and led alone Peter Linke, director of technology and logistics center at GEOMAR in Kiel. His travels took him and his fellow researchers from Alaska to the Antarctic and the Pacific as well as the Black Sea. Approximately 850 geologists, geophysicists and chemists, biologists and oceanographers, and engineers and electronics engineers develop at this institute on its own high-tech devices and robots. These high-tech systems can perform a multitude of tasks at the same time in several thousand meters under the sea.
This is not so simple: Because the environment deep under water is very extreme. Exactly calls the technique always out anew. So there is at a depth of 4,000 meters, a pressure of 400 bar – which is about a hundred times as much as in a normal bicycle tube. “In addition, the temperatures are down there with only about two degrees”, says the expert. “Because of the total darkness also is nothing visible, which is outside of our light cone diving robot.” In addition, the salt water, which also attacks many materials.
“In just the past five years, the Oceanology made technologically very great progress,” says Linke. New measurement methods and analysis techniques allow today to take the complex processes under the sea more closely than ever before. This is also due to the relatively young cooperation between several partners from science and industry. So nearly 20 German institutes joined about two years ago to the network Robex together to bring together about science disciplines expertise.
space technology in the deep sea
“The idea was, among other things, the aerospace technologies with those of marine scientists together,” says Linke. “Because both directions are often confronted with similar questions to which they have to find very specific technical answers.” Around 90 scientists are currently involved in Robex – and the interaction has already proven to be far-sighted. “The analogies between space and deep sea are great,” says Linke. “Robots and instruments must each be there very robust, secure transmission of data over very long distances also relates to both areas and also can be a number of measurement methods used on both fields of research.”
Just as diverse are therefore the types of devices. Firstly, the cable guided underwater vehicles (ROV) that can be remotely controlled via a video system from the ship. Because they draw their energy from on-board, the box-shaped floating robot can move very long time under water. In addition, autonomous underwater vehicles, which look similar to torpedoes. Because they do not depend on wired ship, they can, for example, long dive under large ice surfaces or penetrate into areas that are difficult to access otherwise. They have a whole range of sensors that can analyze both the sea water as well as the nature of the soil.
Different again are constructed “Lander”: These support systems are free-falling discharged to the seabed, where they are fixed at a certain point. You can, for example, investigating undersea methane sources and thanks to its robotic functions place later to water Serene gauges. Even more complex are seafloor observatories, connect the different devices and to explore areas of several square kilometers autonomously. They consist for example of a central landing module, measuring several smaller satellites and cable guided ROV. . A synchronization module connects the respective devices with each other
A concrete project in which these new technologies are used, is currently running in the Black Sea: “Sugar” calls the projects on which some 20 partners from industry and academia are involved and which is coordinated by Geomar. “We are testing there methods, as can be degrade methane gas hydrate in an environmentally friendly way,” says Linke. “On a laboratory scale, our method works, now it is implemented in the sea.” Here researchers and industry want equal solve two problems with high-tech.
The ecosystem protect
Because simply put the so-called methane-substitution is as follows: When recovering the methane hydrate which methane molecules are exchanged for carbon dioxide – and so won the methane as a useful gas and fuels. The advantage is that gas hydrate in the seabed is not destroyed, but used to store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. What can be accomplished in practice the new technology, showing yet another example. So until the end of September came the latest German research vessel “Sonne” from an expedition in the Pacific back, was involved in the next left and Frank Wenzhöfer by the Working Group of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) for deep-sea ecology and technology.
was a goal to explore the possible consequences of deep seabed mining on the ecosystem on the seabed. So has the Federal Republic among other countries in the Pacific on a so-called claim, where the land undersea deposits of manganese nodules can initially degrade for research purposes. “Already 26 years ago German researchers have drawn for testing purposes with a kind of deep-Egge furrows in the seabed,” says Wenzhöfer. “Now we have first investigated as a manganese mining could be the long term effect on the environment under water.”
But let make his team, among other things video and still images from the current state of the test area. In addition, the expert could drop a new crawler to several thousand meters deep, who made measurements there. The crawler is a tracked vehicle, including its own power supply, tight encapsulated systems and robust materials such as titanium and plastics, which can move up to a year autonomous underwater. “Based on the supplied data and images we could see that even after such a long time the furrows were not disappeared,” says Wenzhöfer. “Even this first crawler test was successful, and we want to let him in 2016 for one year driving autonomously in the Arctic on the ocean floor.”
With a completely different project, Siemens deals in Trondheim, Norway. There, the group opened in 2001 its new technology center for applications in the deep sea. Especially Siemens will there develop and supply equipment for the oil and gas industry. This includes the “Subsea Grid”, a new power grid in the sea for oil and gas production facilities. “The idea is to go to a supply line to the sea floor and there build an underwater power grid that delivers power to each installation,” says Heiko year, spokesman for the Energy Management Division. “So far, the systems had to be individually supplied with all cables. The new system is intended to remedy and make the power supply more efficiently.” The launch of the long-term tests under realistic conditions is planned for mid-2016th
The deep sea research thus faces a whole new future: more projects of experts from Germany for earthquake forecasting, climate issues and the flora and fauna of the seas are in progress – and their research vessels with high-tech equipment regularly throw their anchor in a different part of the unexplored deep sea. The journey into the inner world space earth has just begun.