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Deep Sea Rover

October 1, 2009

A roving robot, about the size and weight of a compact car, cruises the deep sea floor to study life there.


A deep-sea dune buggy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When it comes to working under pressure – literally – it’s hard to beat the deep-sea Benthic Rover. It’s an unmanned, car-like robot that slowly cruises the ocean floor, withstanding pressures up to six thousand pounds per square inch. Scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute designed the rover to study life in deep-sea sediments. Electrical engineer Alana Sherman leads the project.

ALANA SHERMAN (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute):
What we’re trying to determine is how much food is reaching the sea floor and how the health of the communities that live on the sea floor are doing.

Knowing that will give scientists a more complete picture of ocean health, and how factors like pollution and climate change may affect it. Sherman says the Benthic Rover provides unprecedented detail, because it can stay miles below the surface for weeks at a time. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.