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13 December 2002

New MBARI mooring deployed in bay

MOSS LANDINGóLast week MBARI researchers successfully deployed a newly-designed oceanic buoy 52 kilometers from shore in Monterey Bay. The mooring is an engineering prototype for the MBARI ocean observing system (MOOS) project. The test deployment will allow engineers to monitor how the buoy and cable respond to environmental stresses during the winter when wind and waves reach their maximum strengths.

The MOOS mooring differs from most oceanographic moorings in several respects, the primary one being the cable that connects the surface buoy to its anchor. The cable contains copper and fiber-optic wires for power and data communications from the surface to the seafloor. In the upper portion of the cable, the delicate wires and fiber- optic strands are coiled within a thick, flexible hose. This strain-relief section protects the electro-optical elements from movements of the buoy above.  

The MOOS mooring was designed to provide more power and connections for more scientific instruments. An array of solar panels and a wind generator on the surface buoy generate five times more power than a typical oceanographic mooring. The mooring also contains a new MBARI-designed onboard controller and sensor interface. The controller, using Java and a network interface, transmits data back to shore via satellite, providing the potential for this type of mooring to be used in any location within 300 kilometers of the U.S. west coast. The transmitted data are archived by MBARI's new shore-side data system, a data management scheme being developed to handle the breadth and volume of data generated by the MOOS project.

The test deployment culminated a year's worth of concentrated effort by the MOOS mooring team. "It was exciting to see the mooring in the water and to download the first data," says Mark Chaffey, project manager. "We will continue to analyze the power system performance, optical signal integrity, and anchor cable loads from the sensors throughout the winter."

This MOOS mooring was designed to test engineering innovations and will be in the bay through next spring. MBARI plans to deploy a MOOS mooring with science instruments in 2004.

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Media contact: Debbie Meyer, pressroom@mbari.org, 831-775-1807