In order to understand the ocean, scientists often find they have to get themselves or their instruments into very specific parts of it. Traditionally, researchers have used ships to photograph the depths, to drop floats and drifters into the currents, and to collect samples of water, rock, and marine life.
In recent years, the spectrum of available observing tools has grown to include human-occupied submersibles, remote-controlled vehicles, autonomous, and towed robots.
The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER is a one-person human-occupied vehicle (HOV) that was built to descend to and explore the deepest places in the ocean. In March 2012, James Cameron used it to visit Challenger Deep. One year later, he transferred the vehicle to WHOI, forming a partnership to advance deep-ocean science and exploration.
The HROV will operate in two modes; as an autonomous, or free-swimming, vehicle for wide area surveys (left) and as a tethered, or cabled, vehicle for sampling and other tasks.