Boaty McBoatface is back with data from the ocean’s freezing abyss

After three missions on a seven-week maiden voyage, the celebrated yellow submarine Boaty McBoatface has returned home with what scientists are calling “unprecedented data about some of the coldest abyssal ocean waters on Earth.”

The long-range robotic submersible (or autosub) set out from Chile in March with its operators from the British Antarctic Survey and the National Oceanography Centre to explore a region known as the Antarctic Bottom Water. Its mission was to record data on the temperature, speed of water flow, and underwater turbulence rates of a region in the Southern Ocean known as the Orkney Passage. Now it returned home from a job well-done.

Boaty McBoatface came to prominence last year when the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) asked the internet to pick a name for the United Kingdom’s new $300 million polar research ship. Voters overwhelming chose the name Boaty McBoatface. But the Science Ministry wasn’t having it. Instead, they went with RRS Sir David Attenborough and attempted to appease voters by giving the name to the autosub.

To some, NERC’s denial of the vote felt like a denial of democracy itself. And even though the autosub is not exactly a boat with a discernible face, its independent nature and go-getter approach to mission in hostile environments — during its voyage, Boaty made three deep dives, venturing nearly 112 miles at depths over 13,000 feet in waters that were sometimes below freezing — make the endearing name appropriate.

The region Boaty explored is deep underwater but it offers unique insight into the mechanisms of the ocean and the impacts of climate change. The Orkney Passage is an important “valve,” reports the BBC, where built-up heat energy is redistributed in the climate system. By studying these regions, scientists hope to develop models to understand and predict the development of the climate in the coming centuries.

“Fresh from its maiden voyage, Boaty is already delivering new insight into some of the coldest ocean waters on Earth, giving scientists a greater understanding of changes in the Antarctic region and shaping a global effort to tackle climate change,” Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said in a statement. “Future Boaty missions and the new RRS Sir David Attenborough research vessel will ensure the U.K. continues to punch above its weight and lead the way in polar science, engineering and technology as part of our industrial strategy.”

Emerging Tech

This very talented robotic leg learned to walk all by itself

Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a robotic limb capable of walking without preprogrammed knowledge of the task. It’s an impressive feat that could help future robots navigate the world independently.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (March 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the red planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

Opportunity’s final image is a haunting panorama of the Martian surface

The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover's legacy lives on. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it's a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA is breaking open samples of Moon rock for the first time. Samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 have been preserved and never before exposed to Earth's atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous image of the Cosmic Bat nebula leaves us starry-eyed

The "Cosmic Bat" nebula has been captured in beautiful detail by the European Southern Observatory. Formally known as NGC 1788, the nebula is two thousand light-years away in a dark corner of the Orion constellation.
Emerging Tech

Super telescope captures supermassive black holes forming billions of years ago

The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii has captured evidence of supermassive black holes forming in the ancient universe. Astronomers discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes from billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.