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INNERSPACE Deep Sea Initiative

The Innerspace Deep Sea Initiative is a new collaboration launched by Global Oceans and the Center for Life in Extreme Environments (CLEE) at Portland State University (PSU), together with a network of scientists, collaborating research institutions, and private sector partners, designed to explore the mechanisms of adaptation and survival in extreme environments of the deep sea. To support the program, Global Oceans will mobilize a rebuilt 6,000-meter ROVs as a new “open source” modular instrument platform called the Innerspace 6000 OEV (Ocean Exploration Vehicle), together with other new towed and autonomous vehicle systems.

The initiative will host an interdisciplinary and inclusive research, operational, training, and public outreach platform focused on developing new deep sea exploration technologies, scientific instruments, micro/nanoscopic imaging and sampling systems, and research expeditions. It will enable scientific investigations that span biological life across habitats from hydrothermal vents to frozen methane seeps and across life history stages from embryos to adults - to collaboratively answer new questions about ocean life on our planet, many of which have yet to be formulated.

The initiative will catalyze fresh thinking about the integration of emerging technologies from biomedical, space exploration, and other applications for deep sea exploration. This approach, for example, will enable new high-resolution deep sea imaging and micro-spatial scale environmental sensing - to observe and document “extremophiles” under natural conditions, behaviors, morphologies, and biophysical associations prior to sampling to surface labs for genomic and other “omics” analyses.

Innerspace will also support translational research by linking discoveries of novel biophysical adaptations to extreme ocean environments with efforts to address global challenges at scale - from novel drugs for human health to climate change, clean energy, synthetic biology, AI/machine learning, and ocean conservation. 

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Project Highlights

Deep Sea Exploration: The INNERSPACE 6000 OEV

Core to the success of the Innerspace Initiative is the availability of a specially designed 6,000-meter deep-sea ROV named the Innerspace 6000 OEV (Ocean Exploration Vehicle) operated as a “system of systems”, hosting multiple interchangeable instruments from an extensible robotic arm inspired by the instrument arm of NASA’s Curiosity Rover.

Innerspace Deep Sea Initiative

Deep Sea Exploration: The INNERSPACE 6000 TIA Towed Instrument Array

A 6,000-meter towed vehicle system owned by Global Oceans has been redesigned and will be built and deployed as the new Innerspace 6000 TIA (Towed Instrument Array) to complement and extend Innerspace research capacity. The redesigned towed system features high resolution imaging and lighting for seabed surveys, biogeochemical sensors, multibeam sonar (MBES) for mapping at depth, an integrated, multi-port biosampler (MAB2), and sensor and sampling ports for guest instruments, as an “open source” platform.

Innerspace Deep Sea Initiative

Innerspace Science

The Innerspace Initiative will create a new deep sea capacity and collaborative structure for exploring “extreme environments” throughout the world’s oceans, to investigate the unique characteristics and adaptations of organisms in these environments at micro-to-nano scales. The Science and Technology Working Groups structure establishes a framework for focused discovery, novel technology development and use, and cross-cutting collaboration.

Innerspace Deep Sea Initiative

Project Team & Advisors

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