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Alvin sphere tests

Let Construction Begin

With the completion of a new personnel sphere, the submersible Alvin is on the way to becoming a stronger, roomier, and more capable research submersible. After two years of design, construction, and safety testing, the sphere (shown here before pressure testing last week in Annapolis, Md.) arrives today in Woods Hole. Like the old sphere, it acts as a cocoon for a pilot and two researchers, but now its titanium shell is thicker to withstand the pressure of greater depths. It's more comfortable too, with 18 percent more interior space. The sphere also has five viewports (covered in the photo), instead of three, giving scientists a whole new look at the seafloor. (Photo by Bruce Strickrott, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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