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Beneath the Sea

  Into the Deep...Remote Control Exploration
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Using "telepresence" museum visitors 3,000 miles away can explore the waters of Monterey Bay.

During one of his many voyages to the Galapagos Rift, Bob Ballard had a revelation. His companion, biologist Holger Jannish, was about to become the first in his field to observe the newly-discovered hydrothermal life forms. But as the sub moved around the vent, Ballard found his colleague glued to a monitor rigged to an outside camera, instead of the porthole window. That's when he put it together - why risk the dangers of the deep, when remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) fitted with cameras could bring images of the ocean depths in all their glory right to the surface?

Since then, Ballard has worked to perfect ROV technology, allowing scientists and students alike to explore the depths, collect samples and make new discoveries remotely. As he says, what's the point of taking people down if they can't go outside when they get there? Ballard himself used his first remote vehicle, Argo, to locate the Titanic, and another called Jason Junior to snake in and out of the wreck a year later, taking the unforgettable shots seen around the world.

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ROVs may soon offer live images of the Florida Keys and California's Channel Islands.

Ballard's latest endeavor allows museum visitors to actually control an ROV cruising through Monterey Bay in California, sending back crystal-clear video images along the way. The trick is the visitors are a continent away, in Mystic, Connecticut. Ballard hopes "telepresence" will bring the deep ocean world he loves even closer to us all.

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Into the Deep: The Early PioneersInto the Deep: A Scientific RevolutionInto the Deep: Deep Ocean ArcheologyInto the Deep: Remote Control ExplorationCreatures of the Mid-Ocean Resources Teaching guide Science hotline video trailer