It is estimated that microalgae produce up to 50% of the oxygen we breathe. Also, one out of every seven people on Earth depends on seafood for their daily protein requirements, and microalgae are at the root of the food web that provides it. This is why marine scientists worldwide are making these tiny organisms the focus of their research.
Traditionally, the analysis of the ocean surface water communities at the heart of the marine scientists' work required collecting samples in-person at sea during expensive boat expeditions, and evaluating them later. Jupiter Research Foundation, however, is developing a compound bright-field microscope that travels on an autonomous, unmanned Wave Glider and allows in-situ water sampling, immediate screening for micro-organisms, taking date/time/geolocation stamped pictures of any organisms it finds and sends these pictures back to the lab in near real-time.
In an initial pilot project and proof of concept, a microscope equipped Wave Glider participated in the Fall CANON 2014 experiments. Based on that experience and many lessons learned during that event, we improved the robustness and quality/quantity of pictures taken and joined Spring CANON 2015 alongside the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). At the center of this event stood the investigation into Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that occur every spring in the Bay and are triggered by the seasonal upwelling of cold nutrient-rich deep water for which the Northern Californian Coast is known.
For four weeks, our microscope system sampled specific locations in Monterey Bay, California, and sent home pictures that participants of the event were able to immediately access on a dedicated website.
The microscope before being sealed, then mounted in the forward payload of the Wave Glider
The Microscope R&D Departement, Roger Dellor and Dick Johnson