SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local oceanographer is getting the chance of a lifetime, spending 27 days in the ocean with NASA.

Skidmore’s Meg Estapa is hoping to bring a little bit of the pacific ocean back to Saratoga with her. She took a break from her research to speak with NEWS10 ABC’s Noel McLaren via Skype.

Assistant professor with the department of geosciences Estapa is one of 14 scientists chosen to study phytoplankton in the pacific with NASA.

“This is a pretty big opportunity for me for sure but its one that I’ve been working towards for a long time”

But one has to wonder, what is phytoplankton anyway? And why is NASA funding a 27 day trip aboard the r/v Falkor to investigate?

“I think the most important to me is our planet is undergoing a large amount of change right? We’re putting a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and physically we can predict what the effects of that might be but in terms of the biology and the chemistry of the ocean and earth’s climate we’re still figuring out what the future effects of that might be”

Estapa says a large portion of the carbon dioxide and pollution humans have put into the atmosphere gets consumed by the ocean, in part by phytoplankton.

“We want to know if that’s going to continue in the future.”

Right now, the crew is a few thousand miles east of Hawaii, driving a line from Honolulu to Monterey, California. All those miles logged and research completed will wind up back at Skidmore with Estapa, where she’ll work with students on campus.