UMaine team invents affordable, easy-to-use scientific instruments for global research voyage

Sea water teems with life — there are an average of 2.5 to 25 billion organisms in a single cup. These nearly invisible organisms, called plankton, helped make Earth habitable and are the atmosphere’s most significant contributor of oxygen to this day. Understanding this influential collective of tiny lifeforms helps scientists understand how life is responding to human activity.

The Bougainville Mission, which embarked this fall, will study plankton in remote parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The mission is made possible through a collaboration between the French Navy, Sorbonne University, the CNRS and project partners that include University of Maine oceanographers Emmanuel Boss and Nils Haentjens, as well as graduate student Guillaume Bourdin. 

The UMaine team led the design and manufacture of affordable, easy-to-handle scientific instruments used in the mission, and supplied daily sampling maps from satellites. The Maine team also participated in a two-week-long training of the mission’s biodiversity officers in July in France to collect data with the affordable sensor and process and interpret satellite images of ocean color.