THAT SINKING FEELING
Thanks to NASA's ASTEP funding, an underwater robot is studying
biology in a series of sinkholes in Zacatón in northeastern Mexico. So far,
the autonomous DEPTHX — guided by a team of several universities —
has gathered 100 types of microbes, in almost 50 dives, including three
new phyla of bacteria. It will continue to seek the unknown in months
DEPTHX dove about 900 feet (275 m) deep towards the bottom of
the Zacatón sinkhole. The craft retrieved samples of water and microbes
lining the limestone sinkhole.
The scientists also used data gathered by the robot's 54 onboard
sonars to create high resolution, three-dimensional maps of the
underground hole which had never before been explored to such depths.
Sinkholes are depressions in the ground that are thought to be formed
by the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks, leaving behind a void that can fill
up with water or air.
The Zacatón sinkhole is about 344 feet (105 m) across and is filled with
water that stays about 86 degrees Fahrenheit ( 30 degrees Celsius) throughout
the year. The water contains sulfuric compounds that serve as a food source for
some of the life within.
Scientists lower the DEPTHX robot into the
water if the Mexican Zacatón sinkhole.
A researcher floats nearby in a kayak.
John Spear / Colorado School of Mines.
Elenco's latest kit creates an Escape Robot that can
process information and maneuver around objects
autonomously. The kit has a microprocessor, three infrared
emitting modules, and on IR receiving module. Two different
sets of legs can be used for different types of movement.
Some soldering is required.
The Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair, located in Ann Arbor, MI, not
only fixes your broken bot, they sell upgrades, attachments, kits, and add-ons. They also staged a recent Robot Fair during that city's Art Fair in July.
Best of all, their proceeds go to the free student programs at
826michigan.org which is a non-profit tutoring and writing center.
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