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Loading iron plates onto Alvin

Weighty Subject

WHOI technicians Rick Sanger (left) and Phil Santos load iron plates onto the research submersible Alvin before a dive. The plates help Alvin descend through the water to the seafloor and stay there without expending a lot of battery power. When Alvin is ready to return to the surface, the pilot jettisons the plates, making the sub light enough to surface. The red flag by Sanger’s left hand is one of six attached to pins that block the plates’ release triggers. They prevent accidental release of plates (and possible smashed toes) while the vehicle is on the ship. The flags are removed before launch. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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