A variety of infrastructure — platforms, nodes, instruments, and sensors — comprise the arrays designed to provide a continuous stream of ocean data to the user community. Each of these is explained in turn:
OOI is made of up five arrays:
- Regional Cabled Array: submarine fiber optical cables that power three sub-arrays of seafloor instruments and instrumented moorings on the Juan de Fuca plate in the NE Pacific: the Cabled Axial Seamount, the Cabled Continental Margin, and the Cabled Endurance Array of Oregon
- Coastal Endurance Array: moored arrays and autonomous vehicles off the coasts of Washington and Oregon
- Coastal Pioneer Array: moored arrays and autonomous vehicles off the coast of New England.
- Global Irminger Sea Array: moored arrays and autonomous vehicles off the coast of Greenland
- Global Station Papa: moored arrays and autonomous vehicles in the Gulf of Alaska
Each array consists of both fixed and mobile platforms outfitted with scientific instrumentation. A surface mooring is an example of a stable, fixed platform. A profiler mooring, which has an instrumented component that moves up and down in the water column, and a glider, which is free to move in three dimensions, are examples of mobile platforms. OOI supports more than 80 platforms.
Each platform can contain multiple “nodes” that provide power and connectivity. Non-cabled nodes contain one or more computers and power converters, where cabled instruments are plugged in and their data are collected and transmitted to shore. The Regional Cabled Array has seven primary nodes that provide power and connectivity to the array, and also serve as distribution centers for extension cables that provide power and communication to sensors, instrument platforms, and moorings for continuous, real-time interactive science experiments at the seafloor and throughout the water column.
Arrays, platforms, nodes, and junction boxes provide the framework for instrumentation and sensors used to collect and transmit data to shore. More than 800 instruments are deployed on OOI, consisting of 36 different types, measuring more than 200 different ocean parameters. Each instrument is equipped with a sensor or multiple sensors that measure specific elements of the environment.
The ultimate objective of this massive infrastructure is to provide real- to near-real time oceanographic data to answer pressing scientific questions. Relaying data is accomplished by an equally complex integrated cyberinfrastructure that receives, stores, and ultimately transmits ocean data to all those who request it.