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Images: ABE—The Autonomous Benthic Explorer

Crew members recover ABE aboard R/V Atlantis after a dive to detect hydrothermal vents on the Galápagos Rift in 2002. (Photo by Dana Yoerger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

ABE can image the seafloor in a variety of ways on a variety of scales. A bathymetric map from the Lau Basin off Fiji covers an area of about 0.6 by 0.37 miles (1 by 0.6 kilometers), showing mounds, fissures, and hydrothermal vent spires with a resolution of about 3 feet (1 meter). (Courtesy of Dana Yoerger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A photomosaic taken by ABE of a smaller area from the Lau Basin shows geological details and individual animals, such as clams, mussels, and snails. (Courtesy of Dana Yoerger, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Before ABE’s first deployment, ABE’s inventors, Al Bradley (left) and Dana Yoerger tested the autonomous underwater vehicle in the test well at the WHOI dock in Woods Hole. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)