Deep-sea rover drives along the bottom on tracks and collects data on the fauna

Over the past seven years, the underwater rover has been in constant use at the Station M section,

located 225 km from California.There he collects data on how bottom-dwelling microorganisms recycle carbon that gets into the water from dead plants and animals, as well as from excrement.

At the beginning of each annual cycle, the "rover" withtitanium hull is lowered into the water from the deck of a surface ship, submerging it to a depth of 4,000 m.The device is designed for a maximum depth of 6,000 m.As soon as the drone lands on double rubber tracks, like a tank, it checks the direction of the current, and then starts moving forward to an unexplored section of the seabed.

He then proceeds to measure the quantityfreshly fallen phytoplankton and plant debris in the area, using blue light to induce chlorophyll fluorescence in them. It also records water temperature and oxygen concentration, and measures oxygen consumption (and therefore carbon dioxide release) by organisms living in the organic layer covering the bottom.

This can be done using two camerasrespirometer, which are lowered onto the drilling fluid and then left in place for 48 hours. After that, the rover moves forward 10 m and again performs all the tests - this lasts about one year, during which it is powered by onboard batteries.

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