NOAA sets up underwater net

NOAA sets up underwater net

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has dropped a remotely controlled camera atop an undersea volcano off the Oregon coast to keep tabs on an exotic ecosystem via satellite link.

The fixed camera is the second iteration of NOAA's New Millennium Observatory, or NeMO, placed on the Axial Seamount volcano, about 1,500 meters below the Pacific surface. NeMO Net gives NOAA scientists near-real-time control of the camera and access to pictures and data. A prototype system worked last year for about a month, and the current system was placed on the active volcano July 14.

NeMO monitors bacteria and plant life that flourishes around the volcano's hot vents. An acoustic modem relays data from three temperature probes and a camera to a tethered buoy on the surface, which relays the data via low Earth orbit satellite to NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory at Newport, Ore.

'William Jackson, Patricia Daukantas, Shruti Dat' and Susan M. Menke

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