ROVworld Subsea Information

Five Explorer Robots We Really, Really Miss
Date: Monday, March 22, 2010 @ 16:00:00 EDT

Five Explorer Robots We Really, Really MissA few days ago, I was saddened by the news that we had lost ABE, the Autonomous Benthic Explorer, off the coast of Chile. For 15 years, ABE had plumbed the depths, literally and figuratively, for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). Scientists had actually pulled ABE out of semi-retirement for this dive in Chile, to explore what's called the Chile Triple Junction, which WHOI notes is "the only place on Earth where a mid-ocean ridge is being subducted (or pushed beneath, a continent (South America) in a deep ocean trench."

Dana Yoerger, one of the scientists monitoring ABE off the Chilean coast, wrote that the craft was about 1.8 miles below the surface when contact was lost. "[S]omething really bad happened, most likely one of ABE's buoyancy spheres collapsed, triggering the implosion of all the others." At that depth, that would be "equivalent to several sticks of dynamite. "ABE sleeps with fishes," Yoerger sadly noted, "most likely in a zillion pieces.

Read the complete article on Discovery News

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