Monday, June 27, 2011

Famed Submersible Alvin Gets $40 Million Upgrade

DSV Alvin is the vehicle that first explored the Titanic, brought back footage from hydrothermal vents, and investigated the BP oil spill, but the workhorse of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has lagged behind technological breakthroughs. But now, the plucky submarine is finally getting the upgrade it deserves.
Currently, the sub can only dive 2.8 miles which leaves 40% of the ocean floor beyond its reach. Furthermore, its titanium-sphere cabin is notoriously uncomfortable, especially for researchers that can spend hours on end onboard. But after $40 million facelift, all that will change. The maximum depth will be extended to four miles, granting access to 98% of the ocean floor, thanks to improved buoyancy foam. New lithium-ion batteries will make that increased depth even worthwhile, providing 12 hours of operations on a single charge. Inside the sub, folding chairs, additional viewports, and an 18% increase in space will make the cabin a little more habitable.
Though it certainly isn’t luxury accommodations, it does ensure that this 46-year old little sub will continue
making scientific discoveries for years to come.

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