by Debi Blaney, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
November 13, 2018
Our ocean covers most of our planet’s surface. It is very important to humans for many things, including the air we breathe, the food we eat, and our weather. But we know very little about our ocean because it is very deep, very big, and hard to explore. The pressure in the deep ocean is so great humans can’t travel there easily—it is easier for us to send astronauts into space than it is for humans to dive to the deepest parts of the ocean. The good news is that we have special robots designed to travel to the deepest and darkest places on Earth and see what things look like there.
One such special robot is Deep Discoverer, or D2 for short. D2 carries a lot of equipment such as powerful lights and video cameras. D2 weighs about 9,000 pounds in air, which is almost as heavy as three cars combined. D2 can dive almost four miles deep, where the pressure is 600 times higher than what humans experience here at the surface.
D2 gets to go on many deep-sea adventures with its best friend and companion, Seirios. Seirios is also a robot that helps us explore the ocean. Seirios is directly connected with a cable to NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, and D2 is connected to Seirios with another kind of cable. Seirios always stays above D2 when they dive together in the ocean and provides additional light so D2 can see where it is going. Together they explore the ocean and underwater mountains and they meet new friends on every dive, like fish, squid, and octopus. Often they discover new creatures that no one has seen before, and sometimes those look like aliens, but they live in our ocean.
With powerful cameras, D2 takes video of the deep sea in places that no one has ever seen before. D2 can also collect rocks from the seafloor with a robotic arm and bring them up to the surface so we can learn more about the deep sea and how our planet formed.
Not only is Seirios connected to D2 and Okeanos Explorer with cables, all three are connected to the rest of the world through a satellite dish. The satellite transmits the video being filmed on the ocean floor to the Internet. Anyone with an Internet connection can follow D2 and Seirios live as they explore the ocean floor. You too can join their deep-sea adventures and experience the wonders of discovery if you have Internet by clicking here. You will be able to see what D2 and Seirios see in the deepest parts of our oceans that no one has explored before. D2 and Seirios look forward to exploring with you!