Nereus

We know from the likes of Robert Ballard and Edith Widder (seriously, watch her priceless reaction to seeing close-up footage of a giant squid for the first time) that deep-sea exploring can pay off, big time. But deep-sea expeditions are still far from easy, and sometimes even the best-laid plans still go awry. This week, we heard sad news from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that it lost one of its deep-sea robots, the Nereus, which was seven hours into a planned nine-hour dive exploring the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand when it went missing. Sad scientists think the machine might have imploded when it was 6.2 miles beneath the ocean surface.

Nereus helped us explore places we’ve never seen before and ask questions we never thought to ask,” said chief scientist Timothy Shank, who helped design the machine. “It was a one-of-a-kind vehicle that even during its brief life, brought us amazing insights into the unexplored deep ocean, addressing some of the most fundamental scientific problems of our time about life on Earth.”

Photo: Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.