Plugged In: Novel Sensor Development by External Researchers for Deployment on the Ocean Observatories Initiative Regional Cabled Array
One of the most exciting aspects of the OOI RCA network is its expansion over the past three years to include myriad sensors from externally funded researchers. New instruments currently deployed at RCA sites include multiple NSF-funded high-resolution, self-calibrating pressure sensors at Axial Central Caldera, the NSF-funded COVIS multibeam sonar for hydrothermal plume imaging at the ASHES hydrothermal field, an ONR-funded uncabled Benthic Observatory Platform (BOP) at a seep site at Southern Hydrate Ridge, a University of Bremen-funded cabled overview multibeam sonar for imaging of all methane plumes at Southern Hydrate Ridge and a 4K video-still camera installed near Einsteins’ Grotto. Future installations include the NASA InVADER exobiology project that includes an array of laser spectroscopic instruments and stereo optical imaging of a hydrothermal chimney. Resident AUV and benthic rover installations are also planned to conduct repeat video and chemical surveys and event-driven sampling at dynamic seep and vent areas. NSF encourages proposals for new cabled and cable-adjacent experiments, as well as the use of OOI data.