Today is the birthday of my grandfather, Jacques Yves Cousteau. To celebrate, I'm extremely excited to announce Mission 31 my upcoming ocean exploration endeavor to live for 31 days atAquarius. Owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and managed by Florida International University, Aquarius is located 63 feet under the sea in theFlorida Keys National Marine Sanctuary(approximately nine miles south of Key Largo). This inner-space station is the only undersea marine habitat and lab in the world. As previous missions have lasted a maximum of 18 days, this will be the first time Aquarius has hosted a mission of this length. Three aspiring marine biologists will be accompanying me.
Not only will our endeavor break new ground in ocean exploration, but it alsocoincides with the 50th anniversary of a monumental legacy left by my grandfather. Credited with creating the first underwater habitats for humans,he led a team of ocean explorers aboard Conshelf II on the first attempt to live and work underwater. The ambitious 30-day living experiment in the Red Sea succeeded as the first effort in saturation diving, proving it could be done without suffering any ill effects. Mission 31 will expand his mission by one full day and 30 feet deeper. We will also broadcast every second on multiple channels exposing the world to the adventure, risk, and mystique of what lies beneath.
During Mission 31, our research will focus on the effects of weather underwater and climate change on corals. Sponges will also be examined for possible cancer curing traits with scientific advice and mission support from Northeastern University's Initiative in Urban Coastal Sustainability. We will also work with the help ofDivers Alert Network (DAN)medical staff, who will oversee our human physiological and psychological experiments to determine how long humans can live without the sun, the effects of long-term high pressure, and the mental impact of close-quarter living.
We are doing this mission for three key reasons:
- To provide children and young adults with both a chance to dream and to experience the excitement of discovery, exploration and scientific endeavors again. (Remember Apollo?)
- To conduct meaningful and important scientific experiments that can be run most effectively when truly saturated under the sea (i.e. we can conduct underwater experiments without having to surface after an hour).
- To push the limits of human potential when living in inhospitable conditions (to give us more insight on such future projects as people living on Mars).
My team will launch saturation training in mid-September and we will submerge on Sept. 30 to make the first full day on Aquarius be October 1. Students will be able to follow our expedition and see what is happening inside Aquarius each day of the mission via live Skype broadcasts into classrooms around the world.
Special thanks to our early supporters DOXA and Skype as well as Ocean Elders, whoseorganization will assist with VIP visits such as Richard Branson, Sylvia Earle, Ted Turner and more to Aquarius during Mission 31 and recording artist will.i.ams i.am.angel Foundation whowill host 12 underserved children to receive scuba training for a visit during the mission. For more information or to join our mission as asupporting partner, please visit us atwww.mission-31.com.