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New Science Channel Program Features WHOI Underwater Vehicles

October 29, 2003

A number of remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles developed and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to explore the world’s oceans are featured in the new television program “Robots of the Deep,” scheduled for national premier on the Science Channel Friday, November 7, at 9 p.m. EST. The one-hour program, part of the channel’s “Science of the Deep” series, features some of the latest technological developments and the scientists and engineers who design and build vehicles to explore the oceans and conduct research. These “robots of the deep” come in various sizes and shapes, and are designed to work in shallow coastal waters or in waters up to several miles deep in remote parts of the world and under the polar ice caps. They can remain underwater for days, mapping the sea floor, collecting samples of water, sediment and marine life, and taking high resolution still and video images of the deep sea. Several have found applications beyond scientific research, helping the military search for and detect underwater mines and sources of chemical pollution, and helping industry explore for oil and gas. Among the WHOI vehicles featured in “Robots of the Deep” are the autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) ABE, APOGEE, Glider, REMUS, and SeaBED, and the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) JASON. The program was filmed in May in Woods Hole, and utilizes footage provided by the Institution. David Clark, who first worked with the Institution on the 1979 National Geographic film “Dive to the Edge of Creation” about the discovery of hydrothermal vents, is the producer of the “Science of the Deep” series. Earlier episodes in the series featured WHOI Biologist Larry Madin and colleagues conducting research on gelatinous creatures in “Mid-Water Mysteries,” which premiered in June. The three-person submersible ALVIN operated by WHOI was featured in a program on methane hydrates called “Hostile Deep,” broadcast in February 2003.

WHOI is a private, independent marine research and engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution is organized into five scientific departments, interdisciplinary research institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.