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Autonomous Robotic Rover Provides New Insight Into Life on the Deep Abyssal Seafloor

MBARIs Benthic Rover IIm robot.

MBARIs Benthic Rover II travels across the muddy seafloor, taking photographs and measuring how much oxygen bottom-dwelling animals and microbes are using over time.

Credit: MBARI

The sheer expanse of the deep sea and the technological challenges of working in an extreme environment make these depths difficult to access and study. Scientists know more about the surface of the moon than the deep seafloor. MBARI is leveraging advancements in robotic technologies to address this disparity.

An autonomous robotic rover, Benthic Rover II, has provided new insight into life on the abyssal seafloor, 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) beneath the surface of the ocean. A study published today in Science Robotics details the development and proven long-term operation of this rover. This innovative mobile laboratory has further revealed the role of the deep sea in cycling carbon. The data collected by this rover are fundamental to understanding the impacts of climate change on the ocean.

"The success of this abyssal rover now permits long-term monitoring of the coupling between the water column and seafloor. Understanding these connected processes is critical to predicting the health and productivity of our planet engulfed in a changing climate," said MBARI Senior Scientist Ken Smith.

From SciTechDaily
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