Underwater Electronics

CREDIT INTERNETDr. S. S. Verma,  Dept. of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt. – Sangrur (Punjab)

Oceans cover greater than 70% of the earth’s surface and we can make a long list of how the oceans and marine life are important to us but still we do currently know more about the moon than our oceans.  Ocean surfaces have been made use for, unlimited sources of salt, fishing, transportation and water surfing from time immortals.  But, the ocean floor habitat is not as well known as coral reefs or coastal areas, as it is very important to all the organisms that live on the bottom (benthic organisms), as well as commercially important because, the continental shelves and ocean floor are home to many important minerals, including oil and natural gas.  Natural gas and oil play a major role in meeting world’s growing energy needs.  The outer and inner continental oceans still contains large amounts of remaining undiscovered natural gas and oil resources.

Science and technology in general and electronics in particular are playing and can further play a great role to enable scientitsts and engineers to derive enduring social, environmental and economic wealth from this vast ocean territory. By unlocking the secrets of ocean processes, ecosystems and resources scientists and technologists are addressing challenges in which oceans can play a central role for the sustainable growth of mankind on palnet earth. There is a need to create technologies to help secure world’s energy future and generate wealth from the substantial oil and gas reserves that lie offshore, while minimising environmental impact. Not only gas and oil but oceans may lead to new marine industries, including seabed mining; developing novel technologies to combat issues such as marine biofouling; and using genetic biodiversity from marine organisms in applications ranging from health benefiting land plants to water filtration.

The health of marine life is a key indicator of the health of the ocean and the health of the ocean is hugely important to the health of the planet. Despite the valuable knowledge gained from the tireless efforts of thousands of marine biologists and ecologists who have and continue to dedicate themselves to learning about life in the ocean, we still have much to learn. The more we know, the more we will be able to effectively protect and conserve ocean life as well as make sustainable use of underwater resources for the benefit of mankind. Further, some marine animal or plant could give us answers to secrets about curing deadly diseases, or how to more efficiently feed a growing world population. Moreover, we, land dwellers, are inextricably linked to life in the ocean and if something goes awry under the sea, the more we know about ocean life, the more ready we will be to interpret what is happening, face the challenges and mitigate the results.

Underwater exploration

Deep-sea exploration is the investigation of physical, chemical, and biological conditions on the sea bed, for scientific or commercial purposes. Deep-sea exploration is considered as a relatively recent human activity compared to the other areas of geophysical research, as the depths of the sea have been investigated only during comparatively recent years. The ocean depths still remain as a largely unexplored part of the planet, and form a relatively undiscovered domain. The first instrument used for deep-sea investigation was the sounding weight, used by British explorer Sir James Clark Ross. With this instrument, he reached a depth of 3,700 m (12,140 ft) in 1840. The Challenger expedition used similar instruments called Baillie sounding machines to extract samples from the sea bed. In 1960, Jacques Piccard and US Navy Lieutenant Donald Walsh descended in Trieste to make the deepest dive in history: 10,915 meters (35,810 ft). As much of the un-catalogued ocean lies so deep and so far from shore, learning about what lives there poses a real challenge. About four decades ago, twelve astronauts have been on six different missions to the surface of the moon, 400,000 kilometres away but very few aquanauts dove below the water surface to the deepest part of the ocean. In the last 50 years, not one person has been that deep, only few unmanned Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Remotely Operated Vehicles and Automatic Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) excel at high speed, long term and large area explorations but there is no substitute for human eyes which  often make the final, significant observations.

We need to take advantage of recent technological advances in general and electronic devices in particular and shift the focus of human exploration away from the skies and to our oceans. Perhaps we have already started to see a shift in curiosity towards what is left to explore on our own planet. The Census of Marine Life (USA) garnered significant international attention and real interest when it released its results last October on learn more about what we do and do not know about life in the ocean. Let our imagination soar with the amazing things we learn and think about what else might possibly live beneath the surface, and how we can learn even more.  As scientific leaders focus in understanding ocean systems, processes and exploration technologies, the political leaders focus on national challenges where oceans can play a central role. The ocean research concentrates on triple-bottom-line delivery and integrates:

  • innovative ocean modeling and observing technologies
  • understanding of the role of oceans in climate change and variability
  • marine biodiversity assessment and conservation
  • sustainable fisheries and ecosystems
  • offshore energy and mineral resource exploration and production
  • multiple-use management for marine and coastal ecosystems.

This capability will offer substantial benefits to all marine users, including: defence forces, tourism, shipping, oil and gas, fishing, search and rescue and the public.

Underwater electronics

Underwater is a term describing the realm below the surface of water where the water exists in a natural feature (called a body of water) such as an ocean, sea, lake, pond, or river. Underwater exploration encompasses some of the most exciting endeavors in the world. Whether charting unknown geological formations, discovering strange life forms in areas we used to think were uninhabitable, or bringing to light the rotted ships and encrusted artifacts of previous eras, this adventure yields more surprises and new discoveries than perhaps any other field. Underwater electronics is to revolutionize ocean exploration for various benefits. Although a number of human activities are conducted underwater—such as research, scuba diving for work or recreation, or even underwater warfare with submarines, this very extensive environment on planet Earth is hostile to humans in many ways and therefore little explored. But can be explored by sonar, or more directly via manned or autonomous submersibles. The ocean floors have been surveyed via sonar to at least a coarse resolution; particularly-strategic areas have been mapped in detail, in the name of detecting enemy submarines, or aiding friendly ones, though the resulting maps may still be classified.

Waterproof or water-resistant describes objects relatively unaffected by water or resisting the ingress of water under specified conditions. Such items may be used in wet environments or under water to specified depths. Waterproofing describes making an object waterproof or water-resistant. It helps to start by understanding what it takes to keep water (and other unwanted stuff) out of an electronic device, and why perfectly sealing (waterproofing) it isn’t as easy or entirely beneficial and only requirement. With access to high-performance computing, advanced robotics and links to international remote sensing programs, there a big push to ocean-based research. In doing this, new ways to deliver benefits to the economy are being discovered, while ensuring that community expectations regarding the sustainable management of oceans are met. Underwater navigation, positioning and communication systems for recreational and professional use need advanced electronic devices.  The most astonishing electronic products like mobiles, camera, computers and televisions are being developed which not only withstand ocean’s wet environments but also withstand pressure & temperature differences as well as any other physical conditions to be encountered under waters. Scientists and technologists have progressed in devising a novel way of protecting the sophisticated electronic circuitry and sensors used within a new range of residential and commercial water meters. The new meters are designed to withstand water pressures up to 60 atmospheres at temperatures from zero to 60 degrees C and to have expected lifetimes of more than 20 years. The approach relies on filling the housing for the electronics unit with resin and under vacuum to ensure that any entrapped air is carefully removed: a technique used to protect the electronics in underwater cameras and other monitoring equipments.

Protecting electronics devices for use in high pressure underwater environments is a very specialized area. The electronic devices need to withstand constant exposure to high pressure water and hence these should be highly automated and ruggedized devices. The packaging of electronic devices has to be simple, low cost and highly effective: making it perfect for encasing increasingly sophisticated electronics in a range of demanding underwater environments. However, with a special coating applied directly to the parts of electronic devices — the innards, not the case —makes them impervious to water damage. So instead of trying to protect electronics by keeping water out, it protects them by making the water that gets in harmless.  To apply the coating, a gadget has to be dismantled, and any areas to remain untreated (like the screen and electrical contacts) have to be masked off. Then the parts are put in a vacuum chamber where the coating is introduced as a vapor.

Underwater electronics means the construction and development of high technology electronics devices like Video Inspection Systems, Video Overlay Systems, Sensors, Cameras, Communication Equipment, Lights, magnetometers and Headphones, all for underwater use. Underwater electronics also means doing advanced research experiments on underwater acoustics, acoustic communications, and testing of underwater equipments such as sonar transducers, arrays etc. The underwater electronic devices will not only records fish movements but also temperature, salinity, depth, and in the near future phytoplankton levels, current speeds and many more. Lots of underwater fans are already exploring capacity on their apple iphone nowadays for charting, GPS and underwater climate applications. Such programmed electronic devices can prove to be beneficial to retain the common user on the right track using the GPS and to verify tides and currents, sun and moon phases and interface straight to control towers.




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