The planet Mars has a moon named Deimos, so it seems only appropriate that the ocean observatory MARS in Monterey Bay have its own DEIMOS. This DEIMOS, however, is an underwater acoustic package designed to monitor movements of fish and zooplankton.
MARS, which stands for Monterey Accelerated Research System, consists of a node the size of two compact cars that serves as both a power strip and a high-speed internet connection for scientific instruments. Connected to the California coast by a 35-mile-long cable carrying power and data, MARS went live late last fall 3,000 feet below the surface in Monterey Bay.
Most recently connected to the node is the University of Washington-designed DEIMOS, which stands for Deepwater Echo Integrating Marine Observatory System. DEIMOS uses an echo sounder to transmit and receive an acoustic signal used to reveal what's in a narrow cone of water above the instrument. DEIMOS can discern everything from zooplankton to whales.
DEIMOS was connected to MARS Feb. 28. For the past two weeks John Horne, UW associate professor of aquatic and fisheries sciences and leader of the DEIMOS project, has been able to sit in his office in Seattle and see the data as it is collected.
Scientists need to know the density, distribution and dynamics of what's living in the water to understand how ocean life responds to tides, nutrients upwelling from deeper waters, storms, the changing seasons or El Nio events, Horne says. That information can then be used to investigate effects of long-term environmental changes.
It's not new for biologists to use echo sounders. What's new is that Horne's package can be controlled from land and operate far longer than those relying on batteries, thanks to the power supplied via MARS. Horne said it took more than six car batteries to provide power for one week to an echo sounder he mounted on a buoy for a past project. To operate for a year on the seafloor, one can't ver
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University of Washington