Underwater Rover Searches the Ocean Floor for Signs of Climate Change
Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute sent an aquatic robot on a test run deep below the Pacific Ocean this summer
Credits: © MBARI
MARINE ALGAE IN BLOOM This computer drawing shows the Benthic Rover illuminating the seafloor with a blue light that causes chlorophyll to fluoresce. Such fluorescence can help scientists tell if blooms of microscopic marine algae have recently settled down onto the seafloor, where they may provide food for deep-sea organisms.
VIEW FROM ALVIN This 2006 image of the Benthic Rover on the seafloor off central California was taken through a view port on the research submarine
Alvin, the deep diving submersible that won popular fame when it located the wreck of the Titanic.
Operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Cape Cod, Mass., Alvin can carry three people 2.8 miles (4,500 meters) below the surface, making nearly 65 percent of the ocean bottom accessible.
MARS UNDER WATER During July 2009, the Benthic Rover traveled across the seafloor while hooked up to the MARS ocean observatory. This allowed researchers to control the vehicle in "real time." The yellow cable on the right side of the image is a long "extension cord" that unspools as the Rover moves.
PROWLING THE OCEAN BOTTOM UNDER PRESSURE
The Benthic Rover makes its way across the deep seafloor during a trial run in 2007. The "brains" of the vehicle are protected by a spherical titanium pressure housing. The orange and yellow objects are made of incompressible foam, whose buoyancy makes the rover light enough underwater so that it won't sink into the soft deep-sea mud. © MBARI Advertisement Advertisement Expertise. Insights. Illumination.
Discover world-changing science. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners.