PHOTO: Schmidt Ocean Institute Puts Its ROV to Test

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Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) has completed sea trials of its remotely operated vehicle (ROV) SuBastian, conducted off the island of Guam in the western Pacific.

This is the first submersible vehicle that SOI has designed and built.

The 25-day testing, from aboard SOI’s oceanographic research vessel Falkor, placed ROV SuBastian in real-world conditions. The ROV tests and trials included 22 dives and more than 100 hours underwater.

Now that the vehicle has been tested, the team is working on making tweaks and improvements so that SuBastian is ready for its first research cruise later this year, visiting the Mariana Back-Arc in Guam. The 4K high-resolution video footage collected with SuBastian will be openly shared with scientists and interested public around the world.

Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, said: “With ROV SuBastian, we will help make life on the ocean floor real to people who will never visit the sea, so they, too, can begin to appreciate the importance of ocean health and make the connection between life in the deep sea and life on land. You don’t have to be a scientist at sea to recognize the importance of the marine environment, and we are only at the beginning of our understanding. We never anticipated discovering the world’s deepest living fish, the ghostfish, back in 2014, and are excited about the life we will discover next.”

The ROV is connected to an umbilical tether that powers and transfers data for live video telepresence operations, resulting in SuBastian’s ability to potentially stay submerged and explore for multiple days at a time. The ROV is designed to go to depths of 4,500 meters (2.8 miles), and will be suitable to support high resolution seafloor mapping, photomosaicing, video and image gathering, and collections of rocks, animals, and seawater samples. SuBastain is equipped with a versatile array of power and data interfaces to enable integration of a wide range of add-on deep sea instruments and samplers that oceanographers may need to support their deep sea research.

Data collected using SuBastian will be openly shared with the public and interested researchers. “This is just the start of SuBastian’s life,” said ROV project manager David Wotherspoon, “The team is incredibly focused and ready to put SuBastian to use. SuBastian will now be used by scientists to investigate the deep sea, acting as eyes, ears and hands miles beneath the ocean surface.”

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