As you’re reading this article, robotic submarines are buzzing around the Marianas Trench, learning more about this mysterious part of the Pacific Ocean and the ecosystem around it. Even cooler? You can watch it all via live-streaming video.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told DigitalTrends that the live-streaming has been a regular part of its ocean research since 2010. Since its initial live-streamed mission to Indonesia, NOAA has conducted one or two missions each year using telepresence — but the Marianas mission appears to be one of its largest to date.
The expedition is actually three in one: The first runs through May 11 and focuses on mapping and surveying the ecosystem of the southern part of the trench; a second, starting May 20, will focus solely on mapping the northern section; and a final leg, June 17-July 10, will complete mapping of the northern region plus a full study of its ecosystem.
Studying lifeforms of the Marianas Trench is something scientists have wanted to do for awhile. At its deepest point, the Trench has a depth of over 36,000 feet — the deepest part in the world. With such depth comes all kinds of unique creatures, some of which NOAA hopes to learn more about — including around the Trench itself, which the equipment unfortunately isn’t designed to enter.
“Our remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Deep Discoverer, can reach a depth of 6,000 meters, which is about the depth at which the trench begins,” a spokesperson told us. That means the crazier life forms that have been found in previous Marianas missions are likely out of reach.
Of course this is not to say the researchers will not find anything exciting. In the first days of the project, at least one new life form was discovered leaving researchers in awe. Cameras spotted some type of never-before-seen jellyfish that looks like a spider stuffed with a ring of lightbulbs. We’re sure to find more: A lot of the research will revolve around life near hydrothermal vents and undersea volcanoes, which, until recently were thought too hostile for life.
NOAA will provide a live feed of the study throughout the project, although the last four hours at any given point will be archived for you to peruse. We have tuned in from time to time and also found narration to the pictures you’re seeing and discussion from scientists, so plan to learn something while you watch.