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Ocean

The Papa Mau Wave Glider, being pulled from Australia's Hervey Bay

Last November, a fleet of four small autonomous Wave Glider aquatic robots set out from San Francisco to sail across the Pacific ocean. They reached Hawaii this March, at which point they parted ways – as according to plan, one pair struck out for Japan, while the other two headed for Australia. Today, it was announced that the first of the two Australia-bound Wave Gliders has reached its destination, setting a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle.  Read More

US Navy divers with a practice mine

Clearing explosives is a major operation and removing the deadly residue of over a century of warfare is a never ending task. The problem is that before you can remove explosives you have to find them. That isn’t always easy – especially underwater, so Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed a new sensor that uses high-temperature planar gradiometers to seek out explosives in the sea.  Read More

The AquatiCo ROV prototype

“People will protect what they love, and they love what they know,” says robotics engineer Eduardo Labarca, paraphrasing Jacques Cousteau. That’s why he and his team at Mountain View, California-based 9th Sense Robotics want to start up an online marine exploration project known as AcquatiCo. If it reaches fruition, it will allow computer users anywhere in the world to control an actual ocean-based submarine, while watching a real-time feed from its onboard video camera.  Read More

Google Maps now lets users virtually 'walk' underwater in Street View to see panoramic vie...

Since its creation, Google Maps has proven again and again how devoted it is to digitizing as much of the world's surface as possible. But while the company may have covered a huge chunk of the Earth from hiking trails to snow covered slopes, it has yet to tackle the 71 percent of the planet that is covered by oceans ... until now. Google recently unveiled some new underwater locations for Google Maps, where users can explore panoramic views of ocean life and coral reefs from around the world using Street View.  Read More

Scientists are designing autonomous 'coralbots,' that would work together to rebuild damag...

Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of coral reefs, but the deep waters west of the nation are indeed home to reefs not unlike those found in the tropics. Unfortunately, a commercial fishing technique known as bottom trawling regularly damages that coral, putting the reefs at risk. Now, scientists are working on a possible solution to the problem – swarms of small, autonomous coral-fixing robots.  Read More

A disc of highly enriched uranium from the Y-12 National Security Complex Plant

The world’s estimated reserves of uranium are only 6 million tons and with the growing demand for reliable energy free of greenhouse emissions leading to more and more nuclear plants being built, that supply may not last very long. Some estimates place the time before all the uranium is gone at between 50 and 200 years. However, the oceans of the world contain 4.5 billion tons of uranium dissolved in seawater. That’s enough to last something on the order of 6,500 years. The tricky bit is getting it out, but a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee has come a step closer to economically extracting uranium from seawater with a new material that is much more efficient than previous methods.  Read More

Wave Glider robots are being deployed as part of an extensive marine life tracking network...

If you’ve ever sat in a beach-side coffee house wondered if there was a white shark in the vicinity, then wonder no more because now there’s an app for that. A team of Stanford University researchers lead by Prof. Barbara Block is deploying a fleet of static buoys and Wave Glider robots to turn the waters off the coast of San Francisco into a huge Wi-Fi network to track tagged fish and animals. This will allow scientists to better understand sea life movements, but the project also includes offering a free app to the public that will allow them to track northern California white sharks on their tablets and smartphones.  Read More

Collecting plastic nurdles with the 'Nurdler'

You may have heard about the huge floating islands of garbage swirling around in the middle of the Earth's oceans. Much of that waterlogged rubbish is made up of plastic and, like Electrolux with its concept vacuum cleaners, U.K.-based Studio Swine and Kieren Jones are looking to put that waste to good use. As part of an ambitious project, they’ve come up with a system to collect plastic debris and convert it into furniture.  Read More

The BlueComm system on the ocean floor (Photo: Sonardyne International)

It would definitely be an understatement to say that underwater research has its technical challenges. Remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) must be tethered to surface support vessels with unwieldy communications cables, deep-sea water samples have to be hauled to the surface for analysis ... or do they? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently announced that it has partnered with two private companies, to market a couple of technologies that address both of those situations.  Read More

A natural-color image of Titan in front of Saturn captured by Cassini (Image: NASA/JPL-Cal...

The icy surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is almost certainly hiding an ocean of liquid water according to data received by NASA from its Cassini spacecraft. The finding could shed light on the mystery of how methane in Titan's atmosphere is replenished.  Read More

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