A scientific vertical floating lab will be built with assistance from France and will be a platform adapted for the ocean environment of the Southern ocean specifically.
Studying the Antarctic oceans
The French explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne's brainchild is the Polar Pod, which will be carried to South Africa and to the Antarctic Ocean in a lying-down position. When ready for deployment, the vessel will flip up, reported the Daily Mail.
To keep the structure upright are ballast tanks that adjust to keep it balanced in the rough weather and wild seas. This manned vessel would not have an engine and instead be propelled by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is a 13,000-mile loop of ocean water that encircles Antarctica.
It is designed to be a feat of engineering that will measure 328-feet long. The pod will exceed the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York, by far. The Polar Pod will circumnavigate Antarctica twice in about three years. It will data like acidity and wave dynamics using sensors built-in on the scientific platform.
The water-based laboratory, which will be funded by the French government, is not yet in the works, but the scientist hopes to deploy it in late 2023 or in 2024. In 1986, Etienne, then 74 years old, has become the first man to visit the North Pole solo. The French Government will build the Polar Pod as inspired by him.
Use of the floating lab
The Polar Pod will be like a satellite in the water that will allow data and long-term observations to be gathered. It will be used by researchers and other scientists to study the effects of the Southern oceans on the earth's environment and climate.
At about 100 meters high and weighing approximately 1,000 tons, the Pod is built to deal with the biggest waves on the planet. It may seem top-heavy but the Pod will be designed to have a stable position compared to traditional ships, with hulls that ride on the ocean's surface.
Etienne would not disclose how much he anticipates the program to cost but did say this will involve 43 scientific institutions from 12 countries.
The crew on the Pod
At any given time, the Polar Pod will have a regular eight-person crew that is comprised of two sailors to navigate icebergs, three researchers, and a cook. But the personnel will be rotated frequently, just like the crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS).
According to Etienne who informed CNN, the ballast tanks are below the personnel compartment and are underwater, to stabilize the Polar Pod. Equipped with underwater microphones called hydrophones, it can record the sounds of aquatic animals and check how many are in the region.
It is designed to have a low impact on the environment by using wind turbines and photovoltaic cells as sources of energy to power the platform.
Another mission is to record how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is taken from the atmosphere, which creates acidity that kills aquatic life. The ocean acts as a carbon sink, collecting more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it releases.
The French Government will build the Polar Pod as a way to research how well our seas are doing.