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Slide Show: Science in Depth--Mini Subs Unlock Mysteries Deep Below the Ocean's Surface

New, improved human-operated and robotic submarines promise to give scientists access to most of the ocean floor, a place less explored than the moon or Mars

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DEEPGLIDER:

This autonomous Deepglider—developed by Charles Eriksen, an oceanographer at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his colleagues—is low-energy: it propels itself through the ocean using changes in buoyancy for thrust.....[ More ]

SENTRY:

The newest deep submergence AUV from Woods Hole, Sentry, can dive three miles (5,000 meters) below the surface. The vehicle is highly maneuverable—unlike some previous robotic vehicles, it can start, stop, turn, and move backward and forward—and can navigate through the steep, rocky deep-sea terrain on its own.....[ More ]

NEREUS:

One of the deepest-diving machines ever developed, Nereus, is Woods Hole's new hybrid ocean vehicle, which is capable of operating in two modes: tethered to a ship, like a traditional ROV, and on its own, like the newer AUVs.....[ More ]

HADAL-LANDER:

This free fall lander, built in 2007, is operated by Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The lander is loaded with scientific equipment—including temperature and depth sensors, a video camera, and several invertebrate traps—and dropped over the side of a ship.....[ More ]

DEEP FLIGHT II:

This image shows the design for Deep Flight II, the next vehicle that Hawkes Ocean Technologies plans to create. The company is currently raising the $10 million necessary to actually build the vehicle, which Graham Hawkes plans to use in his own attempt to reach the deepest point of the Mariana Trench in a program he's calling "Ocean Everest."....[ More ]

DEEP FLIGHT CHALLENGER:

The Super Falcon is the latest model in the Deep Flight line of manned submersibles from Hawkes Ocean Technologies, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded by ocean engineer Graham Hawkes, the company is creating a new class of lightweight, cost-effective manned ocean vehicles.....[ More ]

MIR:

Owned and operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, the MIR submersibles can carry three people 3.7 miles (6,000 meters) below the surface, giving it access to 98 percent of the ocean floor.....[ More ]

ALVIN:

Built in 1964 and still operational, Alvin is often considered to be the most productive submersible in history. Operated by Woods Hole, it can carry three people 2.8 miles (4,500 meters) below the surface, making nearly 65 percent of the ocean bottom accessible.....[ More ]

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