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Learn more about the RESEARCH PROGRAMS...


Providing Access to Advanced Technology

Mixed gas scuba diving

NURP is a world leader in the use of mixed gases for scientific diving. The NOAA Dive Manual produced by NURP is one of the most popular scientific diving manuals in the world. Many types of dive equipment are used to extend the safety and bottom time of NURP scientists including nitrox, trimix, dive computers, rebreathers, and saturation diving.


A scuba diver at work with specialized equipment

Underwater laboratories

NURP developed and operates Aquarius, the only mobile underwater laboratory for saturation diving in the world today. Aquarius allows scientists to live and work underwater for days while conducting research outside the laboratory, and as such, is our Nation's underwater equivalent of Skylab.


Aquarius, an underwater research laboratory

Seafloor observatories

Unmanned observatories, such as LEO-15 operated by the Mid-Atlantic Bight center, are equipped with subsea sensors and surface communications systems that allow scientists and students to retrieve underwater data all the time, in real-time.


A schematic of LEO-15's systems

Underwater robots (ROVs, AUVs)

NURP is a national leader in the use and modification of underwater robotic systems for scientific research. A variety of systems are leased or owned by the program. Systems operated by the NURP Centers include four remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), customized for scientific sampling, that provide access to oceans and lakes to depths of 330 m. Two new systems conduct research to depths of 3000 m. By 1999, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) will be featured at the LEO-15 undersea observatory off New Jersey.


One of NURP's remotely operated vehicles at sea

Manned research submersibles

NURP co-sponsors the 4,000 meter DSV Alvin, explorer of the Titanic and mid-ocean ridges. The Hawaii center operates the Pisces V, a 2,000 meter sub equipped for science. Other submersible systems are either leased or acquired through partnerships. Commonly used systems include the Johnson-Sea-Link and Clelia submersibles operated by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Delta of Delta Oceanographics. Through a partnership with the Navy, the NR-1 has been used for several NURP projects.


The Pices is a manned submersible equipped for science

Underwater sampling technologies

NURP develops improved sampling capabilities to ensure that undersea operations are safe, effective and efficient. Specialized sampling tools allow scientists to work at very fine scales that are impossible to study by any other means. Thin layers such as the interface between the water and the seafloor are critically important to understanding how contaminants are cycled and commercially valuable fisheries spawn, recruit, and survive.

More -- Undersea Research Areas


One of NURP's specialized sampling tools