Magazine article Oceanus

New Hybrid Deep-Sea Vehicle Is Christened Nereus

Magazine article Oceanus

New Hybrid Deep-Sea Vehicle Is Christened Nereus

Article excerpt

Nereus--a mythical god with a fish tail and a man's torso--was chosen in a nationwide contest as the name of a first-of-its-kind, deep-sea vehicle under construction at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The vehicle, known until now as the Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle, or HROV, will be able to work in the deepest parts of the ocean, from 21,500 to 36,000 feet (6,500 to 11,000 meters), a depth currently unreachable for routine ocean research.

Over six to eight hours on the ship's deck, engineers and ship's crew will be able to transform Nereus from a free-swimming vehicle to a vehicle tethered by a hair-thin, 25-mile- (40-kilo meter-) long cable to a surface ship. In its autonomous mode, the vehicle will be able to fly on pre-programmed missions over broad swaths of the ocean to map the seafloor, to gather remote data, or to search for scientific targets such as hydrothermal vents. The tethered mode gives scientists the ability to send instant commands to a mechanical arm, used for gathering samples of undersea rocks and organisms.

"Nereus best fits the image of our vehicle, which engineers can change shape at sea for various science needs," said Andy Bowen, the WHOI engineer overseeing the vehicle's design and development. …

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