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Images: Swimming in the Rain

WHOI biogeochemist Ken Buesseler (blue hat) and engineer Jim Valdes (yellow hat) deploy a Neutrally Buoyant Sediment Trap for a three-day mission in the depths of the North Pacific Ocean in 2005. The instrument collects ?marine snow,? the falling particles of dead phytoplankton and zooplankton feces that sink from sunlit waters into the ocean?s ?twilight zone.? (Photo by Mark Gall, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand)

Particles sinking from sunlit surface waters through the ocean?s dimly lit twilight zone are swept sideways by currents. Conventional moored or tethered traps designed to catch the particles are like ?rain gauges in hurricanes,? said WHOI geochemist Ken Buesseler. He and engineer Jim Valdes are designing a new-generation neutrally buoyant untethered vehicle called the Twilight Zone Explorer, which is swept along with the currents. It surfaces periodically to relay data via satellite. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI biogeochemist Ken Buesseler uses a crossbow to retrieve a Neutrally Buoyant Sediment Trap after one of its missions in the depths. (See "Have Crossbow, Will Travel," below.) (Photo by Carolyn Walker, Bermuda Biological Station for Research)