The ROV Luso is a remotely operated vehicle capable of diving to depths of 6,000m. For Portugal, it represents the ability to reach and operate on 100% of the ocean floor under national sovereignty (including the future area corresponding to the extension of the continental shelf) and 97% of the seabed on a global scale.
This equipment was acquired by Portugal in 2008 as part of Portugal’s Continental Shelf Extension Project (CSEP) with the aim of selectively collecting geological samples from the seabed to provide scientific support to the Portuguese submission presented to the United Nations in May 2009. For Portugal, the acquisition of this equipment represents an opportunity to use this excellent resource to undertake a unique array of multidisciplinary research, development and innovation activities.
The Luso performed its first mission in 2008, and has since then been involved in six oceanographic campaigns focused on the deep sea ofthe continental shelf of Portugal.
Figure 1 - ROV campaigns carried out under the CSEP.
The main purpose of these campaigns was the selective collection of geological samples from the seabed, for the CSEP, as well as information collection for the M@rBis (Marine Biodiversity Information System) project through sampling and mapping, by means of high definition image analysis of biological species in locations where information is scarce or non-existent.
In addition to the campaigns carried out at national level, in 2014 the ROV Luso carried out two international campaigns to support scientific research in the area of the Gulf of Cadiz and the Canaries.
In all the oceanographic campaigns organised by the EMEPC there is a multidisciplinary team of researchers from various domestic and international universities and public or private institutes covering different areas of marine research, such as geology, geophysics, oceanography and macro and microbiology. Members of the on-board scientific team thus have the opportunity to conduct their own applied research while watching the ROV dives. This collaborative environment aims to maximise the potential arising from the time the vessel is in operation at sea, particularly with respect to data acquisition and the creation of scientific knowledge during each of the oceanographic campaigns.
The ROV has already made 158 dives totalling 575 hours of operation, reaching a maximum depth of 3,250m.
The shed housing the EMEPC operational equipment was built in 2010 with the aim of providing infrastructure to accommodate all equipment belonging to the EMEPC, especially the ROV Luso system, as well as providing conditions suitable for carrying out related maintenance and development.
This infrastructure contains work zones for mechanical, hydraulic and electronic work, an equipment storage area, a 4-m tall testing tank and a gantry crane with 2,5 Ton. capacity. It also boasts support facilities consisting of two small laboratories (one dry and one wet), which are primarily focused on biology and geology, and an office. See more on Images Gallery.