NEPTUNE undersea observatory off B.C. coast complete
Sunday, October 17 2010 @ 12:14 AM EDT
Contributed by: terrytvgal
By Jeff Bell, Victoria Times Colonist
VICTORIA — After almost a decade of planning and installation, the planets have finally aligned for the NEPTUNE* Canada project.
Billed as the world's largest undersea cabled observatory, NEPTUNE consists of five main data-collection sites off the west coast of Vancouver Island. They are spread over an expanse of the ocean floor and connected by an 800-kilometre loop of fibre-optic cable.
The final link in the NEPTUNE chain was completed this week at Endeavour Ridge, a volcanically active area of undersea mountains about 300 kilometres from land. The node there has been outfitted with instruments and the final lengths of cable have been laid, essentially completing the data network.
The installation team has just returned from a month at sea.
"This is sort of the end of the beginning. It's going to be constantly evolving and growing over the next 25 years," said NEPTUNE Canada's Mairi Best.
It's now poised to bring in more than 60 terabytes of data in the next quarter-century — the equivalent of the text contained in about 60 million books — yielding information about biological, chemical and geological processes, which can be applied to all manner of research.
*North-East Pacific Time-Series Underwater Networked Experiments.
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