Our new autonomous robot, the Mesobot, is currently being designed to study mesopelagic (midwater) processes. Mesobot will use cameras and lights to non-invasively follow mesopelagic animals, track the fate of descending particles, and follow rising bubbles and droplets, enabling scientists to characterize in situ behavior over extended periods for the first time. With an endurance exceeding a full day, the Mesobot will be able to follow animals as they undertake diel vertical migrations, follow particles and aggregates as they sink, and track bubbles from seeps as they rise. The robot will also carry a pumped-filter sampler, enabling it to capture geochemical samples, plankton, microbes, or seawater.
Mesobot is a collaborative effort by WHOI, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Stanford University, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation. We are currently designing the vehicle and expect its first sea trials in 2019.