Vertical ‘Polar Pod’ Floating Laboratory to Research Antarctic Waters
French explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne has invested nearly a decade in designing a scientific instrument, called Polar Pod, which can brave against wild water of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, gathering essential information.
Jean-Louis Etienne developed a floating laboratory – a polar pod – around 100 meters in length and 1,000 tons in weight. The structure is projected to set course from the east coast of South Africa around Antarctica.
The vessel does not have engines and is powered by Antarctica Circumpolar Current, which flows at 1 knot per hour. The structure above water is where the crew will reside. The submerged part is almost 80 meters below the sea level underneath the water, which is very stable.
It is planned to orbit around Antarctica twice in three years and collect data on how humans affected the Southern Ocean. The plan would also focus on measuring the acidity and wave dynamics, along with other things.
It is reported that there is a large area of cold water around Antarctica – the planet’s largest ocean carbon sink. The polar pod is a crucial instrument to understand how much CO2 is in the oceans. The Southern Ocean is essential as it has one of the important carbon sinks.
The stability of the Polar Pod will provide access to scientists to get this information. The structure is equipped with hydrophones or underwater microphones to record the signature characteristic of marine organisms, helping to census marine life. The structure would work with satellites of NASA and the European Space Agency.
Powered by sensors, the structure collects data that will be provided to the researchers in real-time. The team also plans to schedule live broadcasts from Polar Pod.
The structure will shelter 8 people at any time – four will navigate and deploy sails to avoid icebergs, three scientists and a cook. Every two months, a ship would bring in supplies and a new crew. The Polar Pod’s construction is yet to begin and will be funded by the French Government.