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Robots explore deepest underwater sinkhole

PostPosted: May 23, 2007 12:23 pm
by Ralph E. Powers

A robotic submarine yesterday mapped the bottom of the world's deepest water-filled sinkhole in Mexico for the first time. Similar autonomous craft could some day be used to explore the oceans of Jupiter's moon Europa, researchers hope.

DEPTHX (Deep Phreatic Thermal Explorer) is 2 metres wide, weighs 1.3 tonnes and is equipped with movement, depth, temperature, and salinity sensors in separate pressurised chambers. Sonar beams all around the probe to provide a map of its surroundings for navigation. A sampling arm can extend to collect samples from the walls of the sinkhole.

Entering El Zacatón Cenote in eastern Mexico for the first time on Wednesday, DEPTHX dived down to 270 meters, creating the first map of the giant cavity, which is large enough to swallow New York's Chrysler Building.

The maps show that the sinkhole has a sloped bottom, about 290 meters at shallowest and extending down to over 300 meters.

PostPosted: May 24, 2007 3:56 pm
by Bobatnathrop
That's cool. Too bad they didnt put a map of the cave with the article..*sad*

PostPosted: May 24, 2007 6:28 pm
by Realms
They have some over on Bills site.
I got to say thats one of the most unbelievable and awesome robotic creations I have ever seen. Honestly to me it surpasses Spirit and Opportunity. Its so cool to see how cavers/robotics/and space exploration all relate.

These are exciting times. (for me anyways :-) )

PostPosted: May 25, 2007 2:22 pm
by tallgirl
awesome link realms thank you

PostPosted: May 26, 2007 7:48 am
by CaverScott
tallgirl wrote:awesome link realms thank you
Ditto! :kewl: