Scientific Programe NESTOR

Laboratory in the Abyss of Europe with Real time data Transfer to shore for Interdisciplinary Studies

Characteristics that make the facility unique
Installations available to users
The LAERTIS project is composed by the following institutes
The LAERTIS facility is used by the following institutes

LAERTIS is a deep-sea multidisciplinary laboratory under construction in Greece at a depth of about 4000m, in the deepest part of Europe, off the S.W. coast of Peloponnese, nears the town of Pylos. It is supported by the NESTOR Institute. LAERTIS, using hard wired or telemetrically connected instruments, it acquires environmental data of great importance to Physical Oceanography, Geophysics, Seismology and Marine Biology. Moreover, it will host NESTOR , the first European deep under water neutrino telescope. This experimental facility with the accompanying lab is a first in Europe and uses the deepest waters of it. Indeed, it is the first facility for Astrophysics in Europe (one of four in the whole world). Up to now, about 200 scientists from Europe (including Russia) and U.S.A. has expressed interest in using this facility. Some of the groups have already committed experimental funds for its operation. We open the facility to the interested European scientific community by: 

  • Undertaking collaborative scientific projects with about 25 visitor (300 man-months) per year on Neutrino Astrophysics, Oceanography, Marine Biology, Acoustics and Geophysics.
  • Augmenting the existing support and supportive and administrative infrastructure. 

The LAERTIS facility as designed, use a high bandwidth electro-optical cable (with 18 mono-mode fibers) to transmit the acquired data to the shore with a very high bandwidth optical link. The capacity of the link is such that a series of other experiments can operate in parallel and transmit their data to shore through the same cable. Project LAERTIS is supported by several scientific teams from the disciplines of Marine Technology, Geophysics, Seismology, Marine Biology, Oceanography and Acoustics. LAERTIS is built around the central platform that is kept on the bottom by an anchor. The platform has the termination of the electro-optical cable coming from the shore and also serve as the lowest part of a NESTOR tower. Power conductor and the optical fibers are connected to the system through the "cable junction box". On this structure the following instrumentation is attached:

  • the NESTOR photomultipliers for the detection of Cherenkov photons in the water, as well as, bioluminescence, nephelometry,
  • the Titanium Spheres which house the electronics and the Controls system,
  • the calibration system for the photomultipliers that also monitors the light transmissivity of the water,
  • communication and data transmission systems, using optical fibers, with the shore station,
  • Current meters with sensors to measure conductivity, temperature and depth, current meters and environmental sensors. 
  • Acoustic components (transducer, hydrophones etc.) for acoustic studies, localization of transients and accurate positioning,
  • Acoustical communication with the satellite benthic stations around the central station.


Characteristics that make the facility unique

There are only four neutrino related deep-water experiments in the world; AMANDA in the South Pole, BAIKAL in Baical Lake, NESTOR of S.W. of Peloponnese and ANTARES off Marseilles. The NESTOR/LAERTIS installation takes advantage of the unique fact that this is the deepest part in Europe (depth up to 5200m).  In preliminary studies during the years 1991 until the present a rather favorable site for a deep-sea test station has been located and studied by an international team of oceanographers, marine geologists and physicists off the S.W. Peloponnese near the small Greek island of Sapienza. At a distance of about 14 km off the shore, at water depth of 4000m there is a fairly large abyssal plane that is perfectly suited for several deep-sea installations. In addition, the completely sheltered Bay of Navarino is very close to this offshore location (18 nautical miles) and has maximum water depth of about 60m. The small city of Pylos lies at the entrance of the bay. This combination of a protected, comparatively shallow bay for preliminary test operations with a deep-water site so close to shore is optimal for the research work. In fact this is a unique site in Europe. 

  • Proximity of a deep sea to the shore
  • The existence of a data highway with an electro-optical cable
  • The existence of the bay of Navarino for continuous testing of components. 

We have designated as the NESTOR/LAERTIS site, a location with co-ordinates 36*37.5'N, 21*34.5'E, in the middle of the deep underwater basin (called the NESTOR basin) which has a gentle slope.

Installations available to users

The Central Facility on land is composed of the Pylos Laboratory of the NESTOR Institute and the Shore Terminal Station. The PYLOS laboratory is a building that the municipality of Pylos has generously provided for scientific research purposes. This is a two-storey building with more than adequate floor space (about 500 m2 each floor). The building is situated on the shore of the bay of Navarino, at a short walking distance from the main square of Pylos. Kalamata International airport is 40 km from Pylos and Athens is a 3.5-hour drive away (2/3 on National freeway). Supplies that are unusual on the scale of a small rural town will have to be brought in from the industrial city of Kalamata, 45 km away. 
The harbor of Pylos is well equipped to provide berth to medium size ships, to provide services to large ships at anchor in Navarino Bay and unload or load cargo from them. Deployment operations will be scheduled out of Pylos. Navarino bay is a 4 by 2.5 km wide bay with depths down to 60 m. It is separated from the Ionian Sea by the island of Sfaktiria, leaving only a 1 km wide navigable opening. Pylos is a well-equipped small rural town with good accommodation potential for the personnel and visitors of the laboratory.

The PYLOS laboratory serves several functions in the preparation and testing of LAERTIS instrumentation and in the running of the experiments: 

  • providing general laboratory and test facilities for the preparation of the LAERTIS, its components and sub-components and the various payloads as photomultiplier modules, current meters, OBSs ,gravity meters, magnetometers et.c.
  • providing general machine shop facilities and a special drilling facility for the connector holes on the high pressure housings (e.g., glass, titanium etc.), 
  • high pressure testing LAERTIS instrument modules; in the Large high pressure tank (internal volume: diameter 500 mm, depth 500 mm) at pressures up to 600 atm, in the Small high pressure tank (internal volume: diameter 200 mm, depth 1000 mm) connectors, cables and others small sea-going equipment again up to 600 atm,
  • assembling the various LAERTIS instruments and dry-testing them, 
  • serving as end station for the Bay of Navarino shallow water test station; 
  • providing computer facilities for data selection and management. Moreover it is connected with the international computer network for data, information, communications and transfer using a dedicated line, 
  • distributing the data to collaborators for further analysis, 
  • providing general support services for electronic and electrical repairs (as those found in a well-instrumented University Laboratory). We have already equipped the facility for electronics and tests, i.e. workstation for electronic design, oscilloscopes, logic analyzers and a very fast (1ns resolution) Digital Signal Analyzer. Many other modules and components are available to be used for tests, data acquisition etc. 
  • providing general secretarial, administrative support as well as fiscal control services, 
  • providing e-mail facilities through a dedicated line, 
  • providing office space to partners/users, 
  • connecting the laboratory to the Shore Terminal Station. 

The Shore Terminal Station  located on the shore where the electro-optical cable will emerge out of the sea, in a building space provided by the Greek Telecommunication Organization (O.T.E.). Methoni is only 10 km drive away from the PYLOS laboratory. 
The Shore Terminal Station at Methoni will support several functions: 

  • terminating the electro-optical cable on the shore end,
  • generating the regulated high voltage DC power for LAERTIS,
  • receiving the data from LAERTIS and reprocess them,
  • providing the necessary computer power to process the received data at the first level with a neural network system,
  • transferring the information to the PYLOS laboratory at Pylos through a radio link or a link with high speed computer networking methods.


The LAERTIS project is composed by the following institutes:
  • University of Athens, Greece 
  • University of Crete, Greece 
  • National Observatory of Athens, Greece 
  • University of Kiel, Germany 
  • Hamburg University ,Germany.
  • Academy of Sciences, Russia Institute for Oceanology 
  • Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia 

The LAERTIS facility is used by the following institutes:
  • Greek National Centre of Marine Research
  • University of Athens, Greece 
  • University of Kiel, Germany
  • Greece National Observatory of Athens
  • Geophysics and Geometry Division, Greece University of Athens
  • Greece Biophysics Laboratory
  • Greece NESTOR Institute 
  • Birmingham University

Our facility is expected to expand considerably with emphasis on European participation. It already has international recognition. 
Moreover, for studies related to Marine Science the LAERTIS project, provides a data highway to shore. This way, it will be possible for the first time ever to do interactive studies and cross correlation analysis in deep-sea science