Scientists, teachers and students sailing aboard the 90-foot ship will collaborate with astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to investigate the biology of plankton blooms, coral reefs and other ocean surface and terrestrial ecosystems as the new Beagle circles the world recreating Darwin’s 1831-36 voyage aboard HMS Beagle, which he called “the most important event” in his life and which led to his later discovery of a mechanism for evolution.
This means that the Beagle will be able to do really high-quality science. Satellite images and photos taken from space can provide a large-scale perspective that’s hard to get from the ground, such as sea surface temperatures across whole ocean basins. But space images can’t provide details of what’s happening on the ground, such how ocean temperature affect plankton species. The Beagle’s partnership with NASA means that they’ll be able to have it all – large scale mapping AND detailed sampling. Darwin would plotz!
To celebrate, astronaut Mike Barrett, who brought about the partnership from the NASA side, is taking a tiny model Beagle with him into space this March. The Beagle will (more-or-less) actually be in orbit.