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New Map Brings Southern Ocean Into Relief

by Michael Keller

Map enthusiasts take note: An international team of scientists has created a complete digital map of the entire Antarctic seafloor.

It’s the first time a complete map of the continent’s surrounding bathymetric data, the seafloor’s depth and relief, has been stitched together. Until now, such detailed information has only been available for a few coastal Antarctic areas.

(Click on the chart above for a large (30 MB) version. Courtesy Jan Erik Arndt et al./IBCSO/Alfred Wegener Institute)

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Navy Invests In Human-sized Robot Jellyfish

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by Michael Keller

University engineers are building a human-sized robotic jellyfish that may one day patrol the oceans for months without intervention by operators.

Still a prototype, Virginia Tech’s “Cyro” robot is powered by a rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery, and can collect, store, analyze and communicate data from onboard sensors. A distinctive soft polymer covering mimics the animal’s jelly umbrella-shaped upper bell. This is attached to a rigid robotic skeleton. Cyro measures 5 foot 7 inches in length and weighs 170 pounds.

Researchers chose to mimic the marine invertebrate because its form conserves energy during movement and the creatures are found throughout the world’s oceans.

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Historic Apollo Rocket Engines Recovered From Deep Ocean Grave

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by Michael Keller

A salvage crew funded by the founder of Amazon has recovered the twisted remains of rocket engines once used to launch the Apollo program into space.

Using underwater remotely operated vehicles, the crew spent three weeks pulling the wreckage up from a watery grave nearly three miles below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program,” Jeff Bezos, CEO and Chairman of Amazon, wrote on the blog for his Bezos Expeditions enterprise.

 

Click through to see more photos and a video.

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MicroComplex: An Urchin’s Tooth

by Michael Keller

This false-color picture shows the biominerals that form the teeth of purple sea urchins, Arbacia punctulata.

It was created by biophysicists P.U.P.A. Gilbert and Christopher Killian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison using environmental scanning electron microscopy. They took first place in the photography category of the 2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge for it.

Each color shows a single continuous crystal of calcite, which intertwines and locks with neighboring crystals to make a tooth surface hard enough to grind rock. This biological construction of minerals is completely different from the geologic formation of calcite crystals, which grow in the familiar shape of flat facets and sharp edges.

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