NOAA Oceanography Resources Not your average textbook for suire...
It has really only been within the last 50 years that technology has advanced to the point that we can examine the oceans in systematic, scientific, and, most importantly, noninvasive ways. For the first time, our ability to observe the ocean environment and its resident creatures has finally caught up with our imagination.
This section of the Ocean Explorer Web site highlights the technologies that make today's explorations possible. These include the numerous vessels, submersibles, diving technologies, and observation tools that transport us across ocean waters and into the depths, allowing us to examine, record, and analyze their mysteries.
Vessels are the most critical element in any oceangoing exploration. The vessels used in ocean exploration are highly advanced mobile research platforms. They are equipped to collect a range of meteorological and oceanographic data from their onboard sensors. In addition, they can deploy and retrieve divers, submersibles, and numerous observation tools.
Submersibles provide the means by which we can explore firsthand the ocean depths. Darkness, cold and crushing pressures have challenged the most experienced engineers to develop submersibles that descend to the sea floor, giving us the capacity to make detailed observations and collect samples of unexplored ecosystems.
Diving untethered for more than a few minutes to depths greater than about 100 feet was impossible prior to the invention of the "aqua lung" in the 1940s. Here, technologies that enable explorers to work and conduct research for hours at a time in hundreds of feet of water are described, along with some of diving's inherent dangers.
Observation Tools are the means by which we gather most information about the oceans. For people, the oceans can be an incredibly hostile environment. To learn more about them, we have launched satellites into space and deployed probes into their depths. Remote sensing and other unmanned technologies often precede people in the ongoing search for new information about the oceans and the planet.