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Alvin, the submarine that can explore 99% of the ocean depths

© Image generated by DALL-E AI for Presse-Citron

Alvin, the United States Navy's research submersible, recently benefited from a very significant transformation . Thanks to a huge investment of 50 million dollars, this submarine is capable of diving to a dizzying depth of 6,500 meters, thus opening the doors to 99% of the ocean floor. For the scientific community, this is certainly synonymous with discoveries of unknown ecosystems and organisms that until now remained inaccessible.

Lisa Levin, marine ecologist and biological oceanographer at the University of California, San Diego, is delighted with this opportunity. ” People know they're there ,” she says, referring to the mysterious creatures of the deep. ” But no one has actually observed them .” Indeed, the oceans are still largely unknownas access to the deepest biomes is complex. Hence the importance of initiatives like this or like the RAD2 robot.

Alvin: A giant of underwater exploration

Since its launch 60 years ago, Alvin has undeniably changed the landscape of ocean research. This submersible has enabled numerous advances in oceanography: discovery of hydrothermal vents in 1977, advanced study of plate tectonics and precise topography of the oceans.

Initially capable of submerging to a depth of 2,000 meters, Alvinsaw its capacity extend to 4,500 meters, covering 68% of the vast ocean floor. Other nations such as France, Russia, Japan and China have also built submersibles capable of reaching dizzying depths of 6,500 meters or more. In 2020, China proudly unveiled the Fendouzhe, capable of diving to more than 10,000 meters with three people on board.

The latest upgrade to’Alvin has been hoped for for a very long time. Authorized by the National Science Foundation in 2004, this improvement was initially expected to result in a new $22 million submersible by 2007. However, there were unforeseen cost overruns and unexpected technical difficulties. delayed the project.

Finally, the managers decided to renovate the already existing submarine. Today, Alvinis proudly equipped with a thicker titanium shell, reinforced joints, a more spacious interior, improved cameras and a larger sample basket. This will allow scientists to explore previously completely unknown areas, says Jeffrey Marlow, an environmental microbiologist at Boston University.< /p>

Alvin, the submarine that can explore 99% of the ocean depths

Alvin on the deck of the Atlantis, returning from a dive © Taollan82/Wikipedia

Exploration of deep ecosystems

The new abilities of’Alvin offer scientists new perspectives and exciting for underwater exploration. It will be able to carry crews until the abyssal plains, vast flat expanses covered with sediments at a depth of nearly 6,000 meters. These areas are dotted with rocks rich in precious minerals, highly coveted targets for the mining industry.

To compensate for the limitations of the device, two new autonomous vehicles (AUVs), Orpheus and Eurydice, will accompany the submarine on its future journey, planned for Alaska. Indeed, if Alvin can now explore 99% of the ocean floor, the remaining 1% remains inaccessible to him. Although this may not seem like much, it actually corresponds to more than half of the ocean depths. Both devices are designed to be inexpensive and easy to replace, a pragmatic strategy. They will meticulously map the areas to be explored and can carry out research independently of’Alvin: extraction of sediment cores or taking high-definition photos for example.

Increasingly, robotic submersibles are becoming more sophisticated . For some experts, such as Weicheng Cui of Westlake University in China, the end of manned submarines is approaching. But others, like Lisa Levin, think the opposite and assert that nothing will replace direct experience. It must be said that the researcher has already dived 50 times with Alvin and that according to her, seeing with her own eyes the wonders that the depths conceal remains a challenge. primary importance. In any case, Alvinhas certainly not finished revealing to us all the secrets of our oceans and, with its new update, it is certainly set for a few decades of loyal service.

  • Alvin, the submersible of the United States Navy has just benefited from ;#8217;significant improvements.
  • It will now be able to dive to a depth of 6,500 meters to study deep ecosystems.
  • A capacity that will allow it to navigate 99% of the seabed.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116