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 (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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