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Images: Alvin Gets an Interior Re-design

On a typical dive in the research submersible Alvin, a pilot and two scientists crowd into a 6-foot-diameter personnel sphere in the front of the sub. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

People descend through a narrow hatchway into Alvin's personnel sphere, where WHOI engineer Jeff McDonald is standing and looking up. Once sealed inside, they have no room to stand up, no seats, and no bathroom. (Photo by Buffy Cushman-Patz, Teacher at Sea)

Last year, the process began to create a new, larger personnel sphere for Alvin. Massive titanium ingots, weighing a total of 34,000 pounds, were heated and reshaped into two giant hemispheres that were machined and welded together. (Photo courtesy of the Advanced Imaging & Visualization Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The new sphere will have five, rather than, three viewports; three will be 7, rather than 5, inches in diameter. To withstand pressures at greater depths, the sphere will be 3, rather than 2, inches thick, with an interior diameter that is 4.6 inches wider than Alvin’s current sphere. That increases the interior volume by 18 percent, from 144 to 171 cubic feet. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Members of a scientific advisory committee for national deep-submergence vehicles test a mock-up of the new Alvin sphere constructed by engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The scientists offered feedback on ways to make the sphere more comfortable and effective. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A preliminary view of the upgraded submersible, when the new personnel sphere and other additions are in place. (Illustration by Megan Carroll, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)