Does anything say "ocean exploration" like a Cousteau in an undersea laboratory? Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed oceanographer Jacque Cousteau, is spending the month of June in this bus-sized sealab on the ocean floor. (Via NOAA)
Aquarius, stationed near the Florida Keys, is the last underwater habitat of its kind. It was set up to help scientists explore the ocean floor and study the nearby coral reef, as well as act as a laboratory for the effects of living underwater on humans. (Via YouTube / One World One Ocean)
The younger Cousteau says he'll do all that and more, like studying the effects of climate change on the reef. And in the process, he'll break his grandfather's record.
Jacque Cousteau brought the world stunning images of life under the waves, but also experimented with living down there himself. In the early 1960s, he spent 30 days on a starfish-shaped habitat 30 feet underwater in the Red Sea. His grandson intends to hold out for 31 days at twice the depth. (Via Sony Pictures / "The Silent World", Cousteau Society)
Fabien Cousteau says he got the idea to recreate his grandfather's mission in 2012. That's the year headlines proclaimed the Aquarius was endangered after the U.S. government cut its funding. Cousteau says part of the reason for his dive, dubbed Mission 31, is to help shore up support for the last underwater habitat. (Via NPR, The Washington Post)
"It is not only a legacy ... but it also gives us a unique platform from which to live and explore this final frontier on our planet." (Via CBS)
But he'll have something his grandfather didn't have to help get the word out: social media. Cousteau and the Mission 31 team have been tweeting up a storm, posting facts about ocean life on Facebook and even posing for the cameras. The entire mission is being livestreamed, so you can watch the aquanauts enjoy their freeze-dried dinners. (Via Twitter / @Mission_31, Facebook / Mission 31, Mission 31)
The mission is scheduled until July 1, and expect to see lots of video conferences with the Mission 31 team in the meantime, like the one set for Thursday on Popular Science.