A multi-million robotic submarine that had brought back ocean animals previously unknown to scientists likely imploded during a deep sea dive in the Pacific Ocean.
Nereus, the deep-sea vehicle operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, was lost during a dive more than six miles below the surface of the ocean on Saturday northwest of New Zealand. The dive in theKermadec Trench, thesecond deepest oceanic trench in the world, was part of a 40-day mission to systematically study that area of the ocean.
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A portion of the vehicle likely imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch, according to WHOI. Pieces of debris were later seen floating on the ocean surface by the research team.
"Nereus helped us explore places we've never seen before and ask questions we never thought to ask," said Timothy Shank, an WHOI biologist, in a statement. "It was a one-of-a-kind vehicle that even during it's brief life, brought us amazing insights into the unexplored deep ocean, addressingsome of the most fundamental scientific problems of our time about life on Earth."
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.