Expedition to the bottom of the sea

Now you can come face to face with the fishes when you visit the Web's first live underwater site. Dorothy Walker reports

One nuclear submarine, two marine robots, three satellites and the man who discovered the wreck of the Titanic. These are just a few of the ingredients behind the world's first underwater Web site, which went live last week.

The site is linked to Project Jason, an underwater expedition off the Florida Keys led by Dr Bob Ballard, who found the world's most famous wreck in 1986.

The expedition is studying marine life, particularly the effects of sunlight and human activity on coral reefs. Any visitor to the Web site can watch live broadcasts, meeting sharks and barracuda eye to eye. But schoolchildren around the world, including three schools in Britain, have been given the chance actually to take part in the two-week expedition, using the Internet to experience driving an underwater robot.

The robot is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that creeps around collecting samples from a shallow reef nine miles off the Florida coast. It is a direct descendant of Jason, the ROV that Dr Ballard drove down the main staircase of the Titanic. It is controlled from a submerged research vessel, called Aquarius, containing six scientists. Aquarius in turn is connected via fibre-optic cable to a surface ship, which sends audio- and video- based information around the world via three satellite systems.

As if this were not enough technology, the whole set-up is duplicated at a deeper reef farther out to sea, using a US Navy nuclear submarine as the scientists' base. Differences in data from the two reefs will show the effects of degradation on coral-based life.

For the robot-propelling children, including pupils from Liverpool, Southampton and Lakenheath in Suffolk, the expedition is part of a year-long science project designed by the Jason Foundation. The foundation was set up by Dr Ballard, with the help of corporate sponsors, after he was inundated by questions from students about the technology used to discover the wreck of the Titanic. After the expedition ends on Friday, children will continue with the Jason curriculum, using the Net to publish and compare data on water samples and fish from their areas.

Since 1989, the Jason Foundation has been staging annual "electronic field trips", which have depended heavily on technology. Projects have ranged from testing space exploration vehicles in Hawaii to studying tubeworms 6,000ft below sea level in the Sea of Cortez, off Mexico. Every expedition has been broadcast live, but the Jason Project is the first to be shown on the Web.

Bill Lang, a UK-based communications technician for EDS Corporation, which is responsible for the project's communications, says: "The technology behind this expedition is incredible - that's what we want to show the students. Hopefully, whole careers can be developed from these ideas."

What's next? Is Dr Ballard going to bring us the Titanic live on the Web? "No, he isn't," says Mr Lang emphatically. "He would prefer to stay with things that help the students to get directly involved in the sciences. Besides, the Titanic is in 12,000ft of water, so it's pretty hard to get to."

Follow the expedition until Friday at: http://aquarius.eds.com

Year-round information at: http://www.eds.com/jason

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne celebrates after salvaging a point with the Southampton equaliser
footballAston Villa vs Southampton report
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

    £30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

    Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

    Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible