A poor-man's underwater robot

Via the National Geographic: The Salas y Gómez Expedition travels to the remote Salas y Gómez Island, approximately 200 miles (about 323 km) east of Easter Island, Chile, where they will use dropcams to discover what lies beneath these largely unexplored waters.:

How do the dropcams work?

The dropcams were developed as an alternative to more expensive studies with submersibles or remotely-operated robots, and a way to get lots of high-definition footage from the deepest places in the world. We use a borosilicate glass sphere. We polish the ball and put a camera inside it with a computer, some batteries, and some LED lights. The computer does everything: It tells the camera to record and turns on the lights.

We take the camera, push it over the side of the boat, let it sink to the bottom, and hope there’s something interesting down there to film. When it’s finished recording, the computer shuts off the lights and releases the ballast weight. The dropcam floats back up to the surface so we can recover it and download the video off the camera. Usually, we bait the camera so that any critters in the area will come and sniff around, and with luck we’ll catch them on video.

That’s the idea. It’s basically a poor-man’s underwater robot…

The science team will share frequent updates and media from the expedition, including photographs, videos and links to Google maps, here on the National Geographic News Watch blog. You can also follow the expedition on Google Earth by clicking on the blue ship icon located where the expedition begins near Easter Island, roughly 2,000 miles (3,300 km) northwest of Santiago, Chile. (Make sure the “Places” layer is turned on).

National Geographic and Oceana are members of Mission Blue

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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