Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Interview with an Explorer

Robert Ballard, whose teams discovered the first known hydrothermal vent ecosystem in 1977 and the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985, is busily working on new robotic technology to open the deep to routine study through "telepresence." He's helping to outfit a new exploration vessel, the Okeanos Explorer, with a next-generation system of remotely operated vehicles dubbed Hercules.
When asked what mysteries of the ocean he would like to solve next, Ballard told an interviewer, "I have no idea. When you make a true discovery, like the hydrothermal vents, we didn't know they were there, we tripped over them. What ocean exploration does and will do is trip over stuff. I can tell you that statistically there has to be stuff there because we've only looked at a small percentage of the ocean floor, and look what we've discovered. There's got to be countless more discoveries to be made."

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