The VENUS cabled ocean observatory is designed to provide new ways of studying the ocean. Since its launch in 2006, it has enabled scientists to run and monitor various ocean experiments out of the convenience of their desktops. The aim of VENUS is to study coastal oceans in two sites near Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. The first site of the VENUS seafloor network, operational after February 2006, is located in Saanich Inlet at 100m. The second site is located in the deeper waters of the Strait of Georgia and links instrument arrays deployed at depths varying from 100 to 300 meters.
VENUS uses Internet, telecommunication technology, and a network of about 50 km of fibre optic cables at a maximum depth of 300 metres to create a permanent link to cameras and additional monitoring instruments on the seafloor. The VENUS observatory has scores of sensors that measure such parameters as temperature, salinity, and pressure of the water 24 hours a day. The seafloor instruments provide oceanographers, marine biologists, and geologists with real-time ocean data. "The VENUS observatory represents a step change for the world of marine science and oceanography, which will help improve the way marine scientists observe ocean life in the future," said Dr. Phil Hart, Director of Engineering at Global Marine. Ship-based ocean research methods provide a snapshot view only, whereas the VENUS observatory can be like a continuous film, which will allow more reliable long term observation.
The data, including images and audio, are processed and made available to researchers and the public through the VENUS website. The goal of the project is to not only provide valuable information to advance research, but additionally to allow everyone from graduate school students to curious parents to log on and view the ocean up close.
The facility is funded by the federal and provincial governments of Canada, as well as private industry. VENUS is designed to provide continuous observations for 20–25 years.
- NEPTUNE Canada, a sister observatory to VENUS, additionally operated by Ocean Networks Canada.
- MARS, a similar MBARI cabled-based oceanography observatory.
- SATURN, Science and Technology University Research Network, a coastal margin, or river-to-ocean, testbed observatory for the United States Pacific Northwest, a project of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction.