The seas, which cover more than 70% of the Earth's surface, influence our climate and harbour rich mineral deposits and valuable food sources. Oceanographers are only gradually beginning to understand ocean currents, deep sea ecosystems and the geological structures of the ocean floor. Because of the extreme conditions far below the water surface, none of this would be possible without advanced technology. Search for deep sea fish with spotlights, control an underwater robot, and join the crew of a diving submarine: The Oceanography exhibition shows the technology that helps researchers working in extreme conditions far below the ocean surface.
The Challenger's research Laboratory. Diorama. The ship's first oceanographic expedition took place from 1872 until 1876.
The exhibition presents the technologies that enable humans to penetrate the depths of the ocean and to collect and analyze data there. After an opening section on the early beginnings of the oceanography – featuring a diorama of a laboratory on the research ship Challenger (expedition 1872-1876), the exhibition presents modern oceanography. Visitors learn about the function of self-contained systems that independently follow pre-determined paths or drift with the current. They can also take the controls of an underwater robot to find out how hard it is to control a robot arm.
To perform missions where robots are often used nowadays, people once had to descend far below the surface to see the underwater world for themselves or perform work there. An important technical aid – then and now – are diving helmets and massive atmospheric diving suits. The exhibition presents original examples from the pioneering years of deep sea diving.
Greater depths can be reached only with special deep-sea submarines. In 1960 Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard descended with their Trieste bathyscaphe to a record depth of 10,916 m. A replica of the craft with original parts is on display in the exhibition. Those who feel uncomfortable at the thought of an underwater voyage in the confined space of Piccard's craft may prefer to join a dive with the German research submarine JAGO or watch amazing footage of hot vents on the ocean floor filmed with the HD cameras of the MARUM QUEST deep sea vehicle.