Though Station ALOHA is not bursting with activity as a coral reef or a New York sidewalk would be, the community of organisms that do live at 5 kilometers below the surface of the ocean are not often observed. The ACO camera will be able to observe these infrequent yet fascinating visitors, such as this red sea cucumber.
The Camera was dropped into the ocean to free fall almost 5,000 meters to the seafloor to be installed next to the Observatory. During the descent, the camera needed stability in order to land right side up. The camera's tripod frame was designed to do just that. At the top of the tripod is a sealed glass ball that must be perfectly round to sustain the pressure 5 kilometers below the surface of the ocean.Inside the glass ball, is the video camera. This camera is manufactured for security surveillance so it can pan 360 degrees to see in all directions.
Since no light can penetrate the water all the way to the seafloor, we must turn on the lights on the tripod and Observatory to see anything. This presents a conundrum for observers because turning the lights on alters the habitat and what you will see in it. For scientists who are interested in the seafloor habitat, it is nearly impossible to see it without changing it in some way.