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Aquarius Reef in danger of closing
July 18, 2012 3:01 AM   Subscribe

Aquarius, the NOAA Underwater Laboratory, could close after having their funding eliminated. previously
posted by I am the Walrus (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
We should shut down all the illegal settlements in Atlantean territory IMO.
posted by Glomar response at 3:05 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fuck yeah. What do we need to know about oceans for?
It's not like we're going to colonise them.
Like I was promised.
In the 1950s.
posted by Mezentian at 3:25 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm tempted to make some kind of Sealab 2020/2021 joke but then I remember I'm a year out from graduating with a B.S. in the marine sciences and get a little scared that marine research isn't a priority given the oceans' impacts on climate conditions.
posted by edeezy at 3:30 AM on July 18, 2012


That's kinda sad, I think it's better to explore everything on Earth first before blowing billions into something unreachable in space. Especially when we talk about water, we need it for living you know..
posted by leevituulola at 3:33 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Insanity. Madness. Future generations will curse our names. We're losing interest in studying our oceans, just as our program of oceanic destruction really sets in.

> I think it's better to explore everything on Earth first before blowing billions into something unreachable in space.

Wait, why are "exploring space" and "exploring underwater" somehow in opposition to each other? Both of them are being cut! (And they share common technologies too...)

You're ignoring the common enemy - the ever-growing military budget. That's where the money is going, that's what Aquarium Reef is competing with, that's why Aquarium Reef is going to be closed.

I didn't even have the heart to chime in on the military bases thread yesterday. So many people seemed to generally approve of these 1000+ bases scattered all over the world. Most of them probably cost more than Aquarium Reef does to run.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:44 AM on July 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


I liked a quote from an Infinite Monkey Cage podcast which is paraphrased as:

Going to space is easy. It's just 1atm difference so all you need it to wrap yourself in tin foil. Going underwater is much harder because of the massive pressures.

One day we'll figure out the right technology to go deep underwater safely and cheaply. Then we'll discover all the amazing things that are hiding from us.
posted by milkb0at at 3:52 AM on July 18, 2012


What Lupus said.
posted by newdaddy at 3:57 AM on July 18, 2012


But... but... I thought everything's better, down where it's wetter...
posted by fairmettle at 4:03 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


> Going underwater is much harder because of the massive pressures.

Well... that's true initially, but very soon the fact that the magnitude of the "space problem" is so great completely overwhelms that minor advantage.

Reaching even the very bottom of the ocean is "easy"(*) - you "simply" need to attach a weight to an 11km cable and let it drop.

And sending a person with it isn't that "hard" - you need to keep them alive for perhaps as long as a few days (counting decompression).

Now imagine sending a person to Jupiter... which is 77 million times further away. Earth's escape velocity is 11km/s, solar escape velocity difference is almost 14km/s between here and there, so you need to put about 25km/s worth of energy into each gram of mass you send there. And you have to keep this person alive for years.

(* - "easy" as in "simple enough to conceive of, and has already been done at great effort")
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:13 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


> You're ignoring the common enemy - the ever-growing military budget.

True, this one will never be cut it seems, only growing year after year
posted by leevituulola at 4:30 AM on July 18, 2012


Insanity. Madness. Future generations will curse our names.

Hyperbole. Why should taxpayers fund the pet research of some entitled divers? Claiming your work is science does not make it so. Here is one of the "at risk" programs:

Principal Investigator: Bill Todd,NASA/USRA

The crew of NEEMO 16 will leave the comforts of surface life, and immerse themselves in an undersea world of adventure. This will not be a vacation, as nearly every moment of their 13-day mission will be filled with tests and operations, designed to help NASA understand the factors relevant to actual space missions..

Primary objectives are to test the equipment and operational concepts needed for exploration to near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). This near-zero gravity environment presents a unique challenge where anchoring, tethering, and translating devices will be necessary for surface operations.

Manned deepwater submersibles acting as Space Exploration Vehicles (SEVs) will interact with Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) crewmembers to test the efficiency of different operations:
• NEA attachment/translation/sampling methods/instrument deployment,
• One SEV vs. none vs. two SEVs on effectiveness/efficiency,
• SEV & EVA crew interactions; tethered, robotic arm, foot restraints,
• Effects of crew size (3 vs. 4) on effectiveness/efficiency.


Haven't they done this on the ISS? Isn't this, in fact, the only bloody thing they've been doing with the hundreds of billions of dollars they have already spent on the ISS? This seems to me yet another "science" vessel in need of a "scientific" mission to justify spending your money.

They would be better off to invent some equally absurd military use for it.
posted by three blind mice at 4:42 AM on July 18, 2012


Edeezy, let me handle that one for you.

I hate Pod Six. I don't even know why we have a Pod Six. Total suck pod.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:04 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Edeezy, let me handle that one for you.

"It's all taxpayer money, so go nuts!"
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:17 AM on July 18, 2012


Then we'll discover all the amazing things that are hiding from us.

Or, you know, the alien basalt cities from which we have been hiding, unknowingly, for these many aeons of humanity's deluded "mastery" of the planet. Fortunately, going mad from the revelation and fleeing from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age is very inexpensive national budget-wise. It's a win for everyone!

Well, as long as you get eaten first.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why is it that the people that fucked up our economy are feeling none of the negative effects of their actions?

The only things I see suffering are middle class families, education, and scientific research. The three things that helped greatly in makign this country what it once was.
posted by prepmonkey at 5:52 AM on July 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd assume congress got the message : deep sea drilling, commercial fishing, or marine biology, choose two.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:56 AM on July 18, 2012


...the research base's $3 million annual budget...

Note that we spent $5 billion alone on crappy camo.
posted by Evilspork at 6:00 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're ignoring the common enemy - the ever-growing military budget.

Nonsense. Since time immemorial, mankind's common enemy has been the sun.

If we stop all of this tomfoolery in the ocean, we can finally free up the funds to destroy it once and for all.
posted by cmonkey at 6:02 AM on July 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or, you know, the alien basalt cities from which we have been hiding, unknowingly, for these many aeons of humanity's deluded "mastery" of the planet. Fortunately, going mad from the revelation and fleeing from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age is very inexpensive national budget-wise. It's a win for everyone!

Everyone knows that there aren't any alien basalt cities waiting underwater. They're in Australia. It's the shoggoths we need to watch out for.
posted by jhandey at 6:03 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does this mean we're at the dawning of the age of Capricorn?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2012


And sending a person with it isn't that "hard" - you need to keep them alive for perhaps as long as a few days (counting decompression).

If you want to go really deep, it'll be in a submersible that is 1atm on the inside, so no deco.
posted by snofoam at 7:16 AM on July 18, 2012


Science is depressing. Cut all funds.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:45 AM on July 18, 2012


If you want to go really deep, it'll be in a submersible that is 1atm on the inside, so no deco.

DOH!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2012


Haven't they done this on the ISS? Isn't this, in fact, the only bloody thing they've been doing with the hundreds of billions of dollars they have already spent on the ISS? This seems to me yet another "science" vessel in need of a "scientific" mission to justify spending your money.

I understand your outrage, because that does sound like something duplicated. It isn't though, and here's why:

1. On the ISS, we are getting tons and tons of data on human adaptability to long term microgravity. It also is where we test the countermeasures (mainly diet and exercise) to fight those changes. You can't do that inside a submersible, as that's a 1-g environment.

2. What you can do underwater is test EVA (outside the vehicle) devices, such as "attachment/translation/sampling methods/instrument deployment". With a electrical cable to the vehicle and ducted fans replacing thrusters, you can test all the things that would take too much fuel and thus launch mass to actually do in space. Electrical power and water as mass are unlimited in the ocean, whereas compressed gas for thrusters is very precious in space.

3. We do lots and lots of science on the ISS, above and beyond the stuff I mentioned in #1. I'm sorry you don't know that, but we have a whole office devoted to telling people about it so the stuff is there if you would like to look.

4. Finally, we don't do these kind of tests on-orbit because EVA work is extremely dangerous. There are no boats to come get you if you float away, and you can't swim there either. Space suits fight a losing battle against increasing radiation, and current designs require a long pre-breathe. I also hear it is fairly exhausting, as your suit always wants everything to spread out from the internal pressure. Just closing your gloved hand takes some oomf.

So an underwater lab like this can teach us lots of useful stuff for space travel. Although I'd think you could do the same thing in a facility like the NBL, except the NBL is in constant use for actual astronaut training. As always in science, you use the lab you have while you make plans for a better one.
posted by BeeDo at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


What does Dirk Pitt have to say about this?
posted by Chekhovian at 8:16 AM on July 18, 2012


Thing is none of the taxpayer dollars are spent anywhere but here where they provide a living for a goodly number of middle class families. If as a tax payer I had a choice of where my dollars should go I'd rather they be spent on research than on warfare. Research provides jobs as well as knowledge.
posted by pdxpogo at 8:41 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


We know the surface Mars better than we know our own ocean floor.

ATTN to any politicians are reading this: The remedy to this disparity is not to defund Mars exploration.
posted by BrashTech at 11:35 AM on July 18, 2012


The new Titanic Theory of Governance is really interesting. The lookouts keep claiming to see "icebergs" and we keep spending all of this money to steer around them, and frankly, this deficit just isn't sustainable. In order to enact a fiscally prudent budget which will eliminate the debt, we'll get rid of our early warning devices.

Now when we sink mid-ocean in a preventable tragedy we can claim it was an honest mistake because really, who could've seen that coming?
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:55 AM on July 18, 2012


Why should taxpayers fund the pet research of some entitled divers?

"Entitled divers"? Is that this decade's version of the steak-chomping Cadillac-driving Chicago welfare queen that Ronald Reagan was always on about?
posted by blucevalo at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2012






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