Science requirements and the design of cabled ocean observatories

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A. D. Chave
G. Massion
H. Mikada


The ocean sciences are beginning a new phase in which scientists will enter the ocean environment and adaptively
observe the Earth-Ocean system through remote control of sensors and sensor platforms. This new ocean
science paradigm will be implemented using innovative facilities called ocean observatories which provide unprecedented
levels of power and communication to access and manipulate real-time sensor networks deployed
within many different environments in the ocean basins. Most of the principal design drivers for ocean observatories
differ from those for commercial submarine telecommunications systems. First, ocean observatories require
data to be input and output at one or more seafloor nodes rather than at a few land terminuses. Second,
ocean observatories must distribute a lot of power to the seafloor at variable and fluctuating rates. Third, the
seafloor infrastructure for an ocean observatory inherently requires that the wet plant be expandable and reconfigurable.
Finally, because the wet communications and power infrastructure is comparatively complex, ocean
observatory infrastructure must be designed for low life cycle cost rather than zero maintenance. The origin of
these differences may be understood by taking a systems engineering approach to ocean observatory design
through examining the requirements derived from science and then going through the process of iterative refinement
to yield conceptual and physical designs. This is illustrated using the NEPTUNE regional cabled observatory
power and data communications sub-systems.

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How to Cite
Chave AD, Massion G, Mikada H. Science requirements and the design of cabled ocean observatories. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2006Dec.25 [cited 2022Jun.29];49(2-3). Available from:

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