The oceans belong to all of us. With this simple statement in mind, the Oceanography for Everyone (OfE) project was launched with the goal of making ocean science more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles in conducting ocean science is instrumentation costs, and 4 years ago the OfE team began trying to make one of the most basic ocean science tools, the CTD (a water quality sensor that measures Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), cheaper… much, much cheaper!
If you missed it, the team over at Oceanography for Everyone finalized their flagship product, the OpenCTD, a few weeks ago with the epic #HackTheOcean workshop. During an intensive weekend the OfE team built 3 working OpenCTD prototypes. These devices were the culmination of years of trial and error, with numerous failed, or not sufficiently functional, prototypes. Learning from those experiences, and building on the support of a burgeoning community, OfE was born, and OpenCTD finally reached fruition.
These low cost water quality datasondes are currently undergoing rigorous comparative testing against some of the industry leaders in water quality sensor development (e.g. SeaBird, Insitu, etc.) and are preforming admirable (early test results find the OpenCTD performs with 2% of commercial measurements). The development of OpenCTD has the potential to reshape ocean science. Low cost, scientifically accurate, water quality sensors allow the breadth of ocean science to increase, increasing the intellectual scope addressing ocean problems (currently ocean science research is conducted primarily by wealthier western nations).
OpenCTD is currently the flagship product, but the OfE team has developed other low cost ocean science tools (Niskn 3-D, BeagleBox) and is currently working on how to incorporate the numerous request from other groups of open-source developers to join the OfE movement. It is essential for the future of ocean health, that low-cost effective tools be developed for ocean observations so more areas of the ocean can be observed and phenomena documented, and humanity as a whole can take nondestructive ownership of an environment that plays a critical role in their own survival. The OfE team hopes to achieve that goal.
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