ONR Contributions in Ocean Science Highlighted at New Smithsonian Exhibit

Friday, September 26, 2008

By Peter J. Vietti, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) contributed a video for the Ocean News kiosk at the new Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Sant Ocean Hall exhibit, scheduled to open to the public Sept. 27.

The Sant Ocean Hall will feature a variety of high-definition video experiences, one-of-a kind displays, numerous interactive exhibits, and nearly 700 marine specimens and models. The video draws attention to ONR's leadership as a preeminent science and technology organization and demonstrates a vital application of its revolutionary research.

The scientific work highlighted in the video takes place in the waters located off Martha's Vineyard and centers on ONR's investigative work through the use of robotic technologies. Ocean Gliders, which are autonomous underwater vehicles, and autonomous tripods support a variety of sensors to reveal how marine sediments on the ocean floor are moved around by currents and waves. The ocean robots enable scientists to study problems in ways and through dangerous weather conditions that were not possible even a decade ago.

The video features robots navigating under their own power and highlights their capability to measure key ocean properties and report their findings to scientists anywhere in the world using satellite communications.

The robotic sensing techniques illustrated in the video and in other unmanned sensing systems under development through ONR are revolutionizing how oceanographers study oceans worldwide.

This innovative technology is significant because coastal storms stir up sediments and create a muddy layer of bottom water that is difficult for sensors and Navy divers to see through. ONR's investment in the development of robotic systems and technologies enable research, exploration and ocean-based missions to be performed without risk to humans and underscore the value of robots as capable partners with people.

ONR provides the science and technology (S&T) necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps� technological warfighting dominance. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning, and 914 private industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,170 people, comprised of uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.

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