An innovative underwater robot called Mesobot offers the opportunity to gain unprecedented insights from a sea level known as the mesopelagic zone, which is roughly 200 to 1,000 meters deep.
The Mesobot is capable of tracking zooplankton, gelatinous animals, and slowly moving particles, as well as recording high-resolution images of all of them.
As the team led by Dana Yoerger of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) in the United States has found, the Mesobot greatly expands the ability of scientists to observe sea creatures in their mesopelagic habitat with little disturbance.
This new type of robot will allow us to better understand the role that these beings play in the transport of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the deep sea, as well as the way in which the commercial exploitation of fishing in the mesopelagic zone could affect the marine ecosystem .
The Mesobot was conceived to complement the work done by existing underwater robots and related systems, filling important gaps that conventional underwater robots have not been able to fill.
Designed to disturb the daily lives of the fragile creatures of the Mesopelagic zone as little as possible, the Mesobot features red lights (which most creatures in the middle of the ocean cannot see) and a low-power propulsion system that avoids shaking. too much water and it is reasonably quiet. With this propulsion system, the robot can, for example, follow animals while they dive.
In the foreground, a Mesobot robot. In the background, a boat from which it is observed. (Photo: Evan Kovacs / © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The robot is equipped with a set of sensors. Its casing is designed to minimize the drag imposed by water. It operates at depths of up to 1,000 meters.
The Mesobot can be piloted remotely through a fiber optic cable connected to a ship. Or it can also be released entirely and left to act alone, to execute pre-programmed missions or independently track a target on its own.
This autonomous capacity will one day allow robots of the Mesobot model or similar to follow a specific animal for more than 24 hours and without human intervention, enough time to, for example, observe the vertical round trip that some people make every day. between the mesopelagic zone and the sea surface. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)