A team of researchers will soon be investigating a unique part of the aquatic landscape, according to an article in Ocean News & Technology. The ship Okeanos Explorer will be the launching point for 20 dives, several of which will take place in the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean. Although the ROV unit sent underwater as part of the mission won't travel the entire depth of this trench, which stretches down 5.4 miles, it will be diving down as deep as 3.7 miles.
The dives series began this month on April 10 and will continue until April 30. The Okeanos Explorer will be managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during this expedition as it travels around the Caribbean area and allows scientists to capture live streaming video of the ocean floor. The researchers will also be obtaining important physical data about the temperature of the water, among other factors.
For this expedition, recording video at high quality is important for the mission's findings, but also helps raise the profile of the dive series and its intended goals. Dr. Alan Leonardi said that the live streaming from the ROV they use promotes greater awareness of their work among the public.
"We have a lot of devoted fans who follow our explorations closely," he said. "But with each expedition we reach new audiences who are fascinated by what we are seeing in the deep ocean. This public engagement improves science literacy and fosters an interest in the sciences among young people – perhaps leading to the next generation of ocean explorers."
Much of the success of a mission like this rests on the quality of the tools used, including the ROVs. In unexplored or unfamiliar waters, ROV insurance reduces possible liabilities when units are sent out for extended or repeat periods.