In order to study more about deep sea marine life, NASA is designing a new submarine, which researchers believe could help them look for alien life as well.
NASA, along with leading non-profit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), is building up a brand new deep sea submarine that will explore the largely unexplored ‘Hadal Zone’ – 6,000-11,000 meters below the surface.
Named after Greek hero, the submarine called the Orpheus will survey that underwater area with loads of scientific instruments. Orpheus is a 600 pound drone aimed to explore the Hadal Zone entirely on its own, reported Futurism.
Orpheus is equipped with four Go-Pro like cameras with flashes to help the vehicle navigate on its own and capture the scenery. The drone is entirely autonomous, when it decided to come up for air, it releases a couple of steel weights that fall to the sea floor, this allows Orpheus to float up to the surface. Ideally, as per Business Insider, the drone would do this once it has completed the mission of if it times out.
Video Courtesy: OceanX
Unlike other underwater vehicles, Orpheus is designed to sit on the sea floor and look for the creatures instead of swimming around. It will then ‘pick up off the sea floor, and like a grasshopper, land again somewhere else’, as per team lead Tim Shank. If something goes wrong, the weights on the vehicle are designed to rust off within about a day, forcing it back to the surface.
The $1.2 million mission robot is also meant to be small and light so that if everything goes according to the plan, similar vehicle can explore icy oceans of Jupiter’s smallest moon Europa as well.
“It’s the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother of the vehicle that may go to Europa,” Tim Shank told Business Insider.