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Illuminating the Hidden Planet: THE FUTURE OF SEAFLOOR OBSERVATORY SCIENCE
that a necessary first step in establishing a seafloor observatory initiative is the development of an implementation program that includes plans for a management structure. During the development of this implementation plan, other relevant agencies should be consulted to ensure cooperation on areas of common interest, such as data management. Interagency discussions will also help identify areas of potential conflict. The Committee suggests the following principles to guide the makeup of a program and project management structure:
In all phases of a seafloor observatory program, management must be as responsive as possible to the scientific community it serves. As such, the scientific community must be fully involved in the development of an initial program implementation plan and must play a critical oversight role in the establishment and operation of a seafloor observatory network. This role should include the solicitation and coordination of scientific proposals that will drive the development and expansion of the seafloor observatory network.
Likewise, management must be responsive to the funding agencies supporting seafloor observatories. If co-funding from multiple agencies is involved, as appears will be likely, then interagency agreements must be established as part of the development of a program implementation plan.
The initial development, design, and implementation phase for a seafloor observatories network should include engineering development, prototyping, manufacture, and installation of basic observatory infrastructure. Management of this phase should focus on the following:
identification and prioritization of specific observatory projects and the development of timetables for their implementation;
regular review of engineering development, systems integration, prototype efforts, and engineering risks by independent engineers and potential scientific users;
the completion of previously identified milestones prior to proceeding further with program implementation;
standardizing of design features common to both cabled and mooredbuoy observatories wherever possible, as well as common development of observatory components;
the development of international interface standards to enable deployment of scientific instrumentation on any type of seafloor observatory;
the development of a certified testing capability and standardized operational parameters for scientific equipment to minimize impacts on other observatory experiments;