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What Will be the Future of the Aquarius Undersea Lab?

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aquarius undersea lab

Earlier this year, I reported on the interesting asteroid research NASA was conducting in conjunction NOAA at the undersea laboratory, Aquarius Reef Base. (1)

The reef base has been in use since 1993 and has been home to many scientists as they conducted research in the fields of marine biology, medicine, and space exploration.

NASA was studying the possibility of landing on an asteroid, due to the fact that an undersea environment is the closest simulation astronauts have to a space environment. However, future projects may be in endangered of being cancelled. Congress has eliminated the undersea lab’s $3 million budget.

The Aquarius Reef Base is a one of a kind underwater laboratory. It lies under about 63 feet water and is home to scientists conducting 10-day missions.(2)

These missions focus on everything from coral restoration and high-pressure diving techniques to planetary exploration such as the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO).

Most recently, researchers have used the reef base to study the effects of Sponges on water quality and the possibility of landing on an asteroid. Aquarius offers a plethora of scientific opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

Unfortunately, these scientists may have to look elsewhere to conduct their research.

Government Funding Cuts

Washington has cut Aquarius’ $3 million annual funding. According to the Huffington Post, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., called the slash in funding “unavoidable.” (3)

Even though NOAA and many of the researchers who use the facility braced themselves for a budget cut, they were not prepared to lose all of their funding at once. Thomas Potts, Aquarius’ director at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington told ABC World News:

“There were signals that the budget was tight, but we didn’t think it would be zeroed out.” (4)

The director also stated that they have already lost permanent and temporary staff due to the budget cuts. Congress has allowed for the private funding of the facility, and there is an Aquarius Foundation set up in an effort to support it.

However, the foundation’s goal of $750,000 is barely enough to maintain Aquarius and would not allow for active missions to take place.(4)

So, it would seem that once again scientific research in America has taken a hit; an extensive hit. The shuttle program was de-funded. Now the Aquarius Reef Base has had its budget taken away.

NASA’s planetary exploration program will be slashed in 2013, which will threaten future missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system.

Though NASA and NOAA are being hit hard by these budget cuts, they are not alone. The following agencies are expected to take a considerable hit in 2013: NIT, NSF, USGS, DOE-OS, FDA, NIH, EPA, and CDC.

aquarius undersea lab

Survival of Aquarius is at Stake

If something is not done soon, the Aquarius Reef Base maybe lost and all of the valuable research opportunities will go with it. (5)

Marine Biology and Space Exploration will take significant losses with the closing of this facility. Moreover, the possible loss of Aquarius is only the tip of the iceberg.

Science, itself, in America seems to be on the chopping block. If such budget cuts take place, it will be difficult to ascertain, not only the future of Aquarius, but the future of science in America as a whole.

Many of the innovations that we have come to rely on can be contributed to the research conducted at many of these kind of facilities.

It is understandable that budget cuts are necessary from time to time, but the obliteration of entire institutions dedicated to the study of the world around us is somewhat overkill.

It seems that science and politics should find some middle ground and avoid an all or nothing approach. Without facilities such as Aquarius, and others, it would seem that America is destined to be thrown back into the Dark Ages, while other countries around the world catch up and surpass American innovation.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Top Secret Writers – Aquanauts
(2) Aquarius Page
(3) Huffington Post
(4) ABC News
(6) Science Buzz

Originally published on

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Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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