In The Field

ESOF: Half-fish, half-man

Thankfully, WHOI´s HROV now has a real name.

That handful of letters refers to the latest thing in deep-sea exploration — a sort of schizophrenic deep-diving submersible that can explore the world´s oceans down to an astonishing 11,000 metres´ depth. It´s run out of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and, until lately, was known by the nasty acronym HROV, for hybrid remotely-operated vehicle.

It´s a machine that can dive off the side of its mother ship tethered to a cable to send back information, or to sail freely through the ocean depths all night and return in the morning to dump its data on board. To honor this split personality, WHOI has now named the thing after mythology´s Nereus — a god with the tail of a fish and torso of a man.

Nereus should begin exploring the oceans in early 2007. For more information, check out Oceanus magazine.


Christopher German, the WHOI expert who described Nereus at the ESOF meeting here, added a sci-fi side note about one of the institute´s other submersibles. The engineers who designed ABE or the Autonomous Benthic Explorer, its current free-flying submersible, loved Star Trek enough to try to make the machine look like the starship Enterprise.

Do you agree? Decide for yourself:

http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/instruments/abe.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Enterprise

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