31 days under water: Cousteau again at sea!

    What kind of tests on our life journey did our smartphones and phones encounter: they soared into the air , stopped bullets at the cost of their own lives, took panoramas from the most beautiful roofs of Moscow, were in the very center of lightning and even rose into the stratosphere . Well, you understand that we could not finish the job, without trying to drown them in the ocean.

    This summer, the project "Mission 31" (Mission 31)in which Nokia and our smartphones were directly involved. The grandson of the famous explorer of the depths Fabien Cousteau, who also devoted his life to the study of the oceans, spent 31 days in the underwater laboratory "Aquarius". About how it was and why this expedition is interesting from a technological point of view, we want to tell you in our today's post.

    According to the idea of ​​the project, Fabien Cousteau and his two colleagues were supposed to be constantly at Aquarius for a month and one day. Also, four more researchers and two underwater survey operators took part in the project, who worked on a rotational basis, replacing each other.

    The laboratory itself, in which the project was carried out, is located at a depth of 20 meters in the national marine reserve off the islands of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico. It was built in 1986 and is currently working under the auspices of the International University of Florida.

    Underwater station "Aquarius"

    Each day, the aquanauts spent up to nine hours studying the ocean depths and experimenting outside the base walls. And all this happened in an interactive mode - the entire course of the expedition was broadcast live, including through a specially created application for Windows Phone . Internet users could also see photos taken by expedition members on Facebook and Instagram , for example, ask a question on Twitter.

    Humor at the bottom (in a good way). Photos from the official Mission 31 account on Instagram

    As part of the project, the aquanauts not only conducted scientific experiments, but also studied the physiological and psychological consequences of long-term diving. It is important that such information can be useful not only to marine biologists, but also to future space travelers.

    In addition to the research component, the Mission 31, which launched on June 1, also had historical background. The start of the expedition was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Continental Ice Shelf Station Two experiment: then Jacques-Yves Cousteau organized a 30-day underwater mission, during which six oceanographers lived in an underwater base below the surface of the Red Sea. This was one of the first attempts to build an underwater laboratory and provide scientists with round-the-clock access to the subject of their research.

    At the end of the expedition, it can be stated that Fabien managed to break his grandfather’s record, since Mission 31 became (albeit with a one-day advantage) the longest underwater research expedition in history.

    Our colleagues were able to meet Fabien Cousteau immediately after the expedition and ask him some questions:

    - Fabien, it has been a little time after the expedition ended, you managed to recover. Tell us about your impressions.

    - To spend 31 days under water and be, as they say, in touch with the outside world at the same time, was a completely new experience for me.

    Being under the water column and at the same time receiving text messages or questions on Twitter in the middle of the day and night with questions from Internet users about what I do, what I do there in the laboratory, or even why I eat this particular food - for me it was unusual and interesting.

    Since childhood, I have been participating in expeditions, but this is the first time that we have allowed ourselves and, in principle, simply managed to keep in touch with the rest of the world in real time.

    Nevertheless, it was strange enough that people could watch you around the clock, and for them it was rather strange to see what we were doing there all this time (of course, with the exception of certain points).

    - It turns out that this project was distinguished by the fact that it was interactive: did you maintain contact with the outside world, and did the outside world observe you? A kind of scientific reality show.

    - Of course, this was just one aspect of this project. The fact that we stayed under water for 31 days can also be called almost epoch-making: it was the longest deep-sea dive in history, sponsored privately. If you believe the data of the staff of "Aquarius" - it was the longest mission that has ever been carried out outside the natural habitat.

    It was symbolic for me and my family that we stayed under water for a day longer than my grandfather. We can say that in the history of the Cousteau family a new milestone in the development of underwater depths has appeared.

    - How did the fact that you always had smartphones and tablets at your fingertips influenced the course of your mission?

    - It was a means for regular communication with our surface team. In addition, it was inspired by the ability to broadcast video from these devices to school classes around the world in real time. We were under water, but we could communicate and communicated with all seven continents, including Antarctica.

    Another session of the Skype-conference at "Aquarius"

    On-board Wi-Fi was installed at our station, so we could, for example, communicate on Skype using our Lumia 1020 and 1520. But this, of course, is not the main thing.

    The main thing is that we could do underwater shooting and immediately send content to the network. We had special Watershot covers for the Lumia 1020 designed for underwater use. Every day during the research we took amazing photos and videos, which we could later upload to our project pages and to social networks. It was a kind of real-time documentary story.

    It should be noted also the fact that for the first time we used devices available to the general public.

    - And the cover for underwater shooting is also available to the general public or was it made to order?

    - No, anyone can purchase it online: Watershot sells a limited collection on its website. Of course, this is a highly specialized product when it comes to mass production, but it allows you to take Lumia 1020 with you to a depth of 100 meters.

    “One of the goals of Mission 31 was to study the effects of climate change and water pollution on coral reefs. Have you been able to achieve this goal?

    - I think yes. Global change is a difficult topic for research, at least, for example, from a chronological point of view. Any changes of this scale are visible in the context of a very long period of time (we are talking about decades), so certain results are a matter of the future.

    Nevertheless, after spending a long time under water, we were able to collect visual evidence of climate change on the example of changes in coral reefs. And indeed, in such a short period of time, we managed to do a very large scientific work.

    One of our researchers best described this when he said that in 31 days we were able to do scientifically more than 3 years in a scientific laboratory. Scientists have collected 30 times more data than they could have done while on land.

    - Besides scientific research, was there anything surprising during the expedition?

    Of course. Every day we found something interesting: for example, some new characteristics of species or features of their behavior. Gradually, we learned to interact with the reef, and the inhabitants there got used to our presence.

    One amazing example of a predator – prey behavior occurred right in front of our eyes. And we did not miss the opportunity to share this with the entire Internet.

    A fairly large barracuda swam in front of a giant perch of the grouper goliath family, which ate fish common to it. Perch, who usually eats a small fish, decided to attack and bite the barracuda. We don’t think that someone saw this before us.

    - So, what awaits you and your project in the future?

    Of course, I am open to new projects with immersion in great depths, but now we are still working on the official documentary. Secondly, we are organizing a traveling exhibition “Mission31”, which will visit museums around the world and show people our work.

    Jacques-Yves Cousteau and little Fabien Cousteau

    Thirdly, we are opening an oceanographic center in Florida to expand the wave of interest in Mission31 simply because it has been incredibly successful and met with particular interest by society and students. We still have so much to do!


    P.S. A little of what you (probably) wanted to know about underwater life, but were afraid to ask:

    Is it possible to whistle under water?

    Will the fountain cushion a fizzy drink scattered under water?

    What will happen to the egg if it is broken in the depths of the sea?

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