Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Polar Pod plan to explore Southern Ocean

Frenchman Jean Louis Etienne is planning an audacious expedition to spend six months travelling around the Southern Ocean is a floating structure called a Polar Pod.

The idea behind the expedition is to carry out research into this relatively unknown ocean on a platform that drifts with the wind and currents.

The concept of the Polar Pod draws heavily on experience developed from the US hydrographic vessel called FLIP that was built 60 years ago and still continues in operation today. FLIP is a long slender vessel that can be ballasted at one end so that it floats in a vertical position and it is largely immune from wave influence. The Polar Pod will be similar in concept but instead of a slender ship type hull it will have an open lattice-like structure that will be even less influenced by the waves.

The Polar Pod will be 100m tall with a ballast tank at its lower end and buoyancy tanks below its waterline, with the remainder of the structure above the surface. At its top there is an accommodation block and two ‘wings’ that form both an observation platform and a structure to support solar panels. These solar panels and three 2.5kW wind turbines above them will provide the electric power required to support the crew for the long duration of the expedition.

The block will be located 19m above the sea surface and will be equipped to accommodate seven people for a six month period. Tests have shown that the crew can expect no more than a 5° angle of heel in rough seas and a vertical movement that will be less than 10% of the wave height.

Construction of the 720 tonne Polar Pod is scheduled to start this year, with completion and testing in 2014. The Polar Pod will be towed into the Southern Ocean during the winter of 2014-2015 to begin its six month drift around the Southern Ocean, when it will provide information on the ocean and the climate as well as the huge waves that are reported to inhabit the remote regions of the Fearsome Fifties.

Further information:

Read the original article here

Author: Dag Pike
Source: Maritime Journal
Photo courtesy of NASA via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)