At a ribbon cutting today celebrating the new INFINITY Science Center, Gov. Phil Bryant announced a second major science and technology advancement for Mississippi. NASA's Stennis Space Center director Patrick Scheuermann joined Bryant in making the announcement.
The National Oceans and Applications Research Center, or NOARC, will be located at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss. NOARC will combine the capabilities of NASA, NOAA and U. S. Navy teams to analyze data that can give scientists a "space to sea floor" understanding of the entire Gulf of Mexico watershed and other oceans that NOAA monitors.
Officials aim to use that data to not only drive restoration efforts throughout the entire Gulf but to drive technology innovation and business development in the private sector, as well.
"We have so many outstanding resources already at our fingertips here at Stennis," Gov. Bryant said. "This new center will allow for enhanced research into our own Gulf, but we won't see just research for the sake of research. The scientists who work at this center will focus on getting information into the hands of those who can use it to develop new tools and products, expand businesses and technology industries and improve lives."
"Combined efforts of NOARC scientists and the vast amount of data we have available here can spark any number of products, services and programs," Gov. Bryant continued. "We could see apps that provide commercial and recreational fisherman with real-time wind, temperature and current maps. Or we could see the development of programs that alert oyster fishermen about adverse water conditions that are developing near their leases. We'll be able to work more closely with first responders to provide state-of-the art storm surge and evacuation models. The possibilities are really endless."
Officials say NOARC data could be used to develop environmental management best practices, help identify optimal sites to build critical infrastructure and help guide coastal restoration efforts. NOARC will leverage a partnership with the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology to help encourage the development of small businesses that benefit from NOARC data.
Leaders expect the collaboration at NOARC to increase Mississippi's notoriety as a technology destination.
"I am pleased to know that the State of Mississippi has selected NASA's Stennis Space Center as the site to establish the National Oceans and Applications Research Center," Scheuermann said. "Locating NOARC at Stennis brings about an opportunity for increased collaboration and growth at this unique federal city for the benefit of the entire Gulf Coast region.
"Mississippi can be home to the "Woods Hole of the South'," Bryant added, alluding to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. The renowned center is a pioneer in ocean research. "Along with INFINITY, NOARC will establish Stennis and Hancock County as a world-class destination for scientific research and innovation."
Officials expect to fund NOARC with remaining funds that BP granted to Mississippi during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The center will receive initial funding of $500,000 to provide for basic startup needs.