A vertical marine research vessel called the SeaOrbiter has been the dream of French architect Jacques Rougerie for 12 years. But a recently launched crowd-funding campaign through KissKissBankBank aims to help make the 190-foot-tall ship a reality.
The ship is designed to drift with ocean currents and will be completely sustainable, getting power from solar, wind and waves. A side project in conjunction with the European defense and space systems conglomerate, EADS, is working to develop a biofuel for the ship.
Fifty percent of the ship will move through the water submerged, giving those onboard a constant opportunity to observe life below the surface.
The SeaOrbiter has the space to house 18 marine biologists, oceanographers, climatologists and other scientists, who will live and work onboard for months or perhaps years. Its vertical shape gives it the unique advantage of being able to study ocean life from the top of the ship, where birds fly, to the ocean floor, which will be explored by submersibles.
In between the sky and seafloor, explorers living at atmospheric pressure will be able to investigate the ocean 165 feet below the surface. Saturation divers will be able to go as deep as 325 feet. Beyond that, researchers will use subsea vessels equipped with cameras and other sensors.
Rougerie and his supporters, including Ifremer, NASA and National Geographic, want to explore all of the oceans and major seas.
The crowd-funding site is hoping to raise $436,000, just a fraction of the expected cost of $43 million. The money will go toward construction of the upper 60 feet of the vessel, called The Eye.