The newest way to study fish? How about a wearable submarine! Via The Verge.
The six-and-a-half foot tall, 530-pound aluminum suit looks like something out of an action movie. In reality it has an entirely different — and more intriguing — purpose. Come this summer, scientists will be using the suit, known as the Exosuit, to dive up to 1,000 feet into the ocean with the aim of collecting and studying bioluminescent fish. At such extreme depths, despite almost no visible light, a bounty of mysterious, glowing fish thrive. And with the Exosuit, scientists will observe these fish like never before.
The Exosuit itself is the latest “atmospheric diving system” — a term for suits that protect the operator in a bubble of hospitable conditions. That means divers using a suit like this feel the same pressure that you and I do here on the surface of the planet, and they don’t have to be placed in a decompression chamber immediately after a dive.
Such suits have existed for over a hundred years — early models looked more like a Big Daddy than the Exosuit — but this latest version is lighter and allows for more precise movements. That’s thanks to 18 rotary joints, highlighted in red, that allow the diver to maneuver their arms and legs. And despite the suit’s size, “it’s basically effortless to pilot in the water,” according to the American Museum of Natural History’s dive safety officer Michael Lombardi, who’s trained with the system and will be conducting the deep-sea dives later this year. A diver could technically swim with his limbs in the suit, but it’s equipped with four 1.6 horsepower thrusters that assist with movement. The Exosuit is also safer and more capable than prior models: it’s connected by a tether to a boat on the surface, but it carries enough battery power and oxygen to keep the diver alive underwater for 50 hours.
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