PICASSO-1 stands for Plankton Investigatory Collaborating Autonomous Survey System Operon-1. It is an untethered remotely operated vehicle (uROV) used for studying plankton and other deep sea organisms at a range of sizes using imaging tools, such as a high definition television camera, an underwater microscope called the Autonomous Visual Plankton Recorder (AVPR), and metal halide and red/white LED illumination.
From 1-17 May 2011, the team from JAMSTEC, led by Dr Dhugal Lindsay, assembled the PICASSO in Cairns then sailed for Osprey Reef in the Coral Sea. Using the MV Coral Emperor as a platform, the PICASSO did a series of deep-water missions down to about 800 metres along the steep walls of this remote and spectacular coral atoll.
The high-definition video cameras recorded spectacular vision of the seabed marine life, including behaviour of the rarely seen nautilus cephalopod and pygmy seahorses attached to gorgonian fan corals. The live vision was fed to the surface by fibre optic cable for recording, and the uROV guided from the surface by the team watching the vision on monitors.