Towering flames illuminated the pre-dawn darkness, casting shadows on the ship Ocean Intervention III as it floated over the sunken remains of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The resonant hum of helicopters fused with the roar of fires on either side of the ship, and Chris Reddy could feel the heat on his face.
The night of June 21, 2010, Reddy and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were whisked off their research vessel Endeavor to collect samples directly from the blown Macondo well, which had been spewing oil and natural gas into the Gulf of Mexico for two months. They had 12 hours to do something that had never been done before: Use a robot arm to stick a special bottle directly into the hot hydrocarbons. Now, a year later, their analysis explains just what came out of the well, and sheds more light on what happened to it.
Nereus becomes the third craft to explore the bottom of the Marianas Trench
By Marshall Louis ReavesPosted 06.09.2009 at 4:55 pm 5 Comments
On May 31, the unmanned submersible Nereus became only the third craft ever to reach the full depth of the Marianas Trench, 35,770 feet below sea level. Built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the sub is a hybrid of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The Nereus runs on its own battery power, but researchers on a mother ship send it commands over a single hair-thin fiber-optic line that's 25 miles long but weighs just 1.35 pounds.
By Gregory MonePosted 08.01.2007 at 3:39 pm 0 Comments
In what Russian officials are calling a race against the U.S. to stake a claim in an area believed to be rich in natural resources, two Russian ships are set to deploy a pair of submeriibles to the bottom of the Arctic Ocean tonight. The race aspect might be overblown, though; according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which is conducting the U.S. mission in the area, its scientists intend to study hydrothermal vents and the biology of the deep ocean.
The Russians, on the other hand, clearly seem to be heading down for the riches. It's not clear yet whether the potential reserves are large enough to justify the cost of pumping them out. But the Russian explorers, who will pilot the two subs down to depths of 14,000 feet, hope to establish that the area is actually a natural extension of their country, and thus belongs to Russia. They're even planning to plant a flag.—Gregory Mone
An underwater robot attempts a record-breaking voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, fishing for signs of global warming along the way. See it in action in an exclusive video inside.
By Gregory MonePosted 04.04.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
This month, a slow-swimming robot known as Spray will attempt to glide roughly 2,484 nautical miles across the Atlantic, from the southern tip of Greenland to the coast of Spain. An autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, Spray is a joint venture between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. When deployed, it will act as an aquatic sentinel, gathering data on temperature, currents and salinity that will help scientists better understand the role of oceans in regulating the global climate.
Hot off the presses: Highlights from the world's biggest science conference
By Michael MoyerPosted 02.22.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
The annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference covers arguably the greatest variety of subjects of any science conference in the world. This year's gathering, held in St. Louis, Missouri, hosted symposia on everything from astrobiology to veterinary ethics. And although it's impossible for one reporter to cover more than a small fraction of the 200-plus scientific sessions held over five days, here are a few highlights of the most exciting research happening now.