This deep-sea robot explores the mysteries of the climatic activity of our oceans

It is said that withscientists know more about the surface of the moon than about the deep seabed. Now a new autonomous robotic rover from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), called the Benthic Rover II, provides new knowledge about life at 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) below the surface of the ocean.

The rover explores the role of the deep sea in the circulation of carbon.

“The success of this bottomless rover now allows long-term monitoring of the relationship between the water column and the seabed. Understanding these related processes is crucial for predicting the health and productivity of our planet, engulfed by a changing climate.” said in a statement Senior Research Fellow at MBARI Ken Smith.

What’s so special about this rover? To fully understand the Earth’s carbon cycle and climate, we need to understand the deep seas. So far, however, obstacles such as extreme pressure and the corrosive nature of seawater have made it almost impossible to send equipment to the deep seabed to study its carbon activity.

This is about to change now with the Benthic Rover II, providing continuous monitoring of the deep seabed. Due to its ongoing activities, the rover will probably capture exciting unprecedented events, says the head of the electrical engineering group Alana Sherman. “If you don’t watch all the time, you’ll probably miss the main action,” he explained.

Benthic Rover II is a true engineering marvel. It’s done made of corrosion-resistant titanium, plastic and pressure-resistant syntactic foam, which allows it to withstand deployment to a depth of about 19,700 feet (6,000 meters). It is also equipped with computer control system and software reliable enough to run for a year without crashes, and electronics that consume very little power so that the batteries can last a year.

It is impressive enough that the rover, despite its considerable size, consumes on average only two watts, approximately as much as the iPhone.

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