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Proteus: An Underwater Legend

In Greek mythology, Proteus is an early prophetic sea god of rivers and oceanic bodies of water, who has been called the god of ‘elusive sea change’, which suggests the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water. It is an apt name for the up-and-coming project of an international space station in the ocean.

Swiss designer Yves Béhar unveiled his futuristic idea for French ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau’s underwater pressurised research station a few years ago. The 4,000-square-foot modular lab is designed as a two-story circular structure grounded to the ocean floor on stilts and will be located under the sea near Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean.

Proteus will have protruding pods that contain laboratories, personal quarters, medical bays and a moon pool for divers to access the ocean floor. This marine habitat will provide a home to scientists and researchers from across the world studying the ocean. Powered by wind and solar energy and ocean thermal conversion, it will have its own greenhouse and will allow scientists to cultivate their own food 18 meters under the sea as they research various topics, from the effects of climate change and new marine life to medical breakthroughs.

“Ocean exploration is 1,000 times more important than space exploration for – selfishly – our survival, for our trajectory into the future,” Cousteau said over a video call, with Béhar. “It’s our life support system. It is the very reason why we exist in the first place.”

Proteus recently signed a collaboration agreement with the U.S. Navy R&D facility the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre (NUWC) in Newport, Rhode Island. This follows the announcement of a similar collaboration with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric & Administrative (NOAA). The deal with the US Navy facility is a cooperative research & development agreement to drive ideas about underwater habitat and mission operations.

“NUWC Division Newport has over 150 years of experience developing undersea technologies, including ocean & biological-inspired sciences,” said its chief technology officer Dr. Jason Gomez. “We are very excited to collaborate with Proteus and explore the use of habitats for research purposes.”

This collaboration will encourage shared research initiatives and lessons learned from past projects, the creation of audio-visual content for future training and educational materials, and the development of safe undersea operational procedures.

“We welcome NUWC’s experience and collaboration, and the opportunity to see how technologies derived from US Navy research can be used for civilian applications,” said Cousteau, chief oceanic explorer of Proteus Ocean Group.


Edited By: Josh Reidelbach

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