University of Washington Seeks Pacific Ocean Data Via InternetSEATTLEScientists at the University of Washington have proposed an ambitious project that would place networked underwater cameras and recording equipment on the Pacific Ocean floor for the transmission of scientific data through the Internet. The NEPTUNE project, which means North East Pacific Time-series Undersea Network Experiments, would require $250 million in funding for the first five years and would deploy 3,000 kilometers, or more than 1,800 miles, of fiber-optic cable to connect the cameras and recording equipment necessary for the project. Images and sounds recorded in the ocean would be streamed to universities, laboratories, aquariums, museums and schools. One of the project’s goals is to use the marine data to develop curricula and activities for schoolchildren. Neptune’s cable will be placed along the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate and will stretch from British Columbia to California, according to officials. “The way the oceans are currently being explored is not a way to do science,” John Madden, vice chairman of the project, told Wired magazine. “In most of the sciences, conducting time series is absolutely crucial. But a lot of the events in the ocean are catastrophic in nature, and we can’t be there every time something happens.”Test beds are currently being set up off the coast of Monterey, Calif., to study how the equipment will work together, as well as to monitor costs and uncover potential problems. Organizers hope to have the project up and running by 2006, according to project officials.“No one has ever done anything even close to this, in terms of magnitude, with an undersea project,” says Marcia McNutt, CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Neptune Project member. “Therefore we thought it would be prudent to create a smaller scale.”
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