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Robotic Exploration and Sampling of the Midwater Ocean

Wyss EventLecture

The mesopelagic or “twilight zone” extends vertically in the ocean from about 200 to 1000m, the depth where sunlight ceases to penetrate. It is particularly under -explored and poorly understood due in large part to the logistical and technological challenges in accessing it. However, knowledge of this vast region is critical for many reasons, including understanding the global carbon cycle – and Earth’s climate – and for managing biological resources.

Engineers, biologists, and chemists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are developing the Mesobot, a new class of deep-sea robot specifically focused on midwater science. The Mesobot will provide transformative imaging and sampling. At the core of its design is the ability to navigate a three-dimensional environment in a biomimetic fashion inspired by midwater animals like jellyfish and salps. The Mesobot also promises to be an ideal platform to apply biologically inspired robotic systems that are currently under development at the Wyss Institute. Other partners in the project include the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Stanford University, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

This seminar will comprehensively review the specifics of the Mesobot, and present future research goals.

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