On the 1st of June, Fabien Cousteau will lead a group of scientist on a 31 day adventure below the waves. This coincides with the 50th anniversary of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's first attempt on leading a team of ocean explorers to live and work underwater aboard Conshelf Two. All of this will happen in the Aquarius lab, the only underwater marine habitat and lab in the world, located 9 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., and operated by Florida International University.
Located 63 feet below the surface near deep coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Aquarius measures 43 by 20 by 16.5 feet (12 x 6 x 5 meters) and weighs approximately 81 tons. The habitat is able to withstand pressures up to 120 feet (36 meters) deep and has six bunk beds; hot water; a mini kitchen with microwave and refrigerator; air conditioning; computers; and wireless telemetry that connects to the Aquarius base on shore. The typical Aquarius mission lasts up to 10 days and through saturation diving, scientists can spend up to nine hours a day in the water (opposed to the typical one hour dive) without having to worry about getting the bends each day. Because of the length of dives and the fact that Aquarius is kept at the same pressure inside as the surrounding water, scientists must decompress within the habitat before surfacing at the completion of each mission.
As is described on their website and Facebook page: "Fabien Cousteau’s Mission 31 will break new ground in ocean exploration." Mission 31 will broaden the original Cousteau experiment by one full day, 30 more feet (9 meters) of saturation and will broadcast each moment on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath. This will be the first time a mission of this length has taken place in the Aquarius lab.
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