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.
The Luso ROV was acquired by Portugal in 2008, within the scope of the Project for the Extension of Portugal's Continental Shelf (PEPC), in order to selectively collect geological samples from the seabed, for the scientific support of the Portuguese submission to the United Nations in May 2009. The acquisition of this equipment represents for Portugal the possibility to use this means of excellence to carry out a unique set of multidisciplinary research, development and innovation actions.
The Luso made its first mission in 2008, and since then has conducted seventeen oceanographic campaigns focused on the deep sea.
Figure 1 - ROV Luso
Figure 2 - 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 even non-existent.
In addition to the campaigns carried out at national level, in 2014 the ROV LUSO team began international cooperation campaigns to support scientific research, such as in 2014 in the area of the Gulf of Cadiz and Canary Islands, 2018 in the Mediterranean and 2019 in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Mediterranean and in 2021 in the Cape Verde archipelago.
In all the oceanographic campaigns organized by the EMEPC there is a multidisciplinary team of researchers from various national and international universities and public or private institutes, covering different areas of marine research, such as geology, geophysics, oceanography and macro and microbiology. The embarked scientific team thus has the opportunity to conduct their own applied research while watching the ROV dives being executed. This collaborative environment intends to maximize the potential arising from the ship time at sea, namely in what concerns data acquisition and scientific knowledge creation during each of the oceanographic campaigns.
The ROV has already made 265 dives, in a total of 1155 hours of operation, reaching a maximum depth of 3512m in 630 days at sea.
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.