Drifting Robotic Undersea Sampler Helps Marine Microbiologists Study a Previously Unseen World

January 25th, 2013 | by Mera McGrew

Anyone in the business of wildlife filmmaking can talk for hours about the difficulties of recording nature —the sun isn’t always where you need it to be, animals don’t perform on cue and you don’t often get a second chance to capture the perfect shot.

Those who turn their sights to study the miniscule world of marine microbes living their lives in their native habitat have all those problems, but in spades. In fact, the obstacles have been so hard to surmount that such an enterprise has been impossible. That is, until now.

Scientists from MIT and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have figured out how to record the goings-on of wild marine microbes for the first time. They did it by employing a robotic sample processor suspended beneath a free-floating buoy that was set adrift off the California coast.

“We’ve essentially captured a day in the life of these microbes,” says Edward DeLong, an MIT environmental systems professor who is the senior author of the paper that introduces the latest advancement in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more: txchnologist.com: Drifting Robotic Undersea Sampler Helps Marine Microbiologists Study a Previously Unseen World.

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