Deep-Sea Transformer Sets Record


At the beginning of May we discussed Nereus, the new $5 million hybrid-transformer-multipurpose-all knowing-swiss army knife of deep-sea research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.  The autonomous vehicle can switch between an autonomous underwater vehicle (unteathered to the surface) to a remote operated vehicle (tethered) depending on the mission.  At that time, the goal was to send the Nereus to visit the 11,000m (36,089ft) Challenger Deep in the Pacific Ocean, making it the first autonomous vehicle to do so.

Last week, WHOI announced mission accomplished.  Not in the way our last president used this phrase either, but actually meaning that a goal was achieved.

The dive to 10,902 meters (6.8 miles) occurred on May 31, 2009, at the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean…On its dive to the Challenger Deep, Nereus spent over 10 hours on the bottom, sending live video back to the ship through its fiber-optic tether and collecting geological and biological samples with its manipulator arm, and placed a marker on the seafloor signed by those onboard the surface ship.

Be sure to check out the interactive Nereus.
[googlemap lat=”11.317″ lng=”142.25″ width=”500px” height=”500px” zoom=”5″ type=”G_HYBRID_MAP”]11.317,142.25[/googlemap]

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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