By exploration, we mean expeditions focused on oceanographic exploration purely for the sake of discovery. Few organizations get to state this as their mission, but lucky those that can! At a different level, many hydrograpic, geological, coastal, and academic data collection surveys have an element of exploration and discovery. Any imaginable combination of samplers, instruments, sensors, and vehicles can be involved: ROVs and AUVs, piloted submersibles, multibeam sonar for bathymetric depths, water column target detection, and backscatter intensity returns, sidescan sonars for imaging the seafloor, CHIRP sonars, sub-bottom profilers, seismic arrays, samplers, magnetometers, video and photo towed sledges, ADCPs, SVPs, dredges, trawls, and even experimental instruments still being developed.
Fledermaus was developed for ocean mapping research, and is an integral tool in oceanographic exploration of all kinds. The ability to easily integrate and present a variety of data, from different sensors and at different resolutions, into one 4D interactive environment, is key. Bathymetry, imagery, sub-bottom data, sample and location points,
track lines, scalar grids, point clouds, volume objects, and water column curtains are all easily imported into Fledermaus. If ROVs or AUVs are part of your mission, you can show real-time location of up to 10 vessels within your visualization as well as monitor the distance from your vessels to the seafloor or points of interest. Multibeam sonar water column data is one of the newest data types being used in exploration, and Fledermaus provides the most intuitive, user-friendly water column processing package available for detecting and visualizing features such as gas plumes and shipwrecks. Finally, one of the most important parts of exploration and discovery is presenting your findings. 4D Fledermaus scenes can be distributed and viewed using the free downloadable viewer, iView4D. Using a mouse or 3D interaction device, you can create impressive fly-throughs to distribute as WMV or MPEG movie files; you can also export your data to KMZ for viewing in Google Earth. Fledermaus also provides image creation tools, allowing you to generate high-resolution perspective images, profile images, and sun-illuminated georeferenced images for posters, presentations, and publication.
Data courtesy of Dr. Jim Gardner of CCOM-UNH on NOAA vessel Okeanus Explorer