Ocean Kickstarter of the Month: New Robot to Explore the Depths of Yellowstone Lake

We are engineers and explorers who plan to help Yellowstone scientists make what could be tomorrow’s greatest discoveries.

New Robot to Explore the Depths of Yellowstone Lake

The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration is a non-profit engineering group that designs and builds robots to explore the world’s oceans and large lakes. They are trying to build Yogi, a small research ROV to explore the depths of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone Lake is a fascinating water body, with hydrothermal vents similar to the deep-sea vents that my primary research focuses on.

I’ll let them explain why this project is so cool:

Why explore Yellowstone Lake?

Yellowstone started a proud tradition of protecting our planet’s most unique environments when it became the world’s first National Park more than a century ago. However, there is a part of Yellowstone that very few people have visited. An entire ecosystem that is hidden from us at the surface. A place that scientists are eager to study and may harbor unknown life; the depths of Yellowstone Lake.

We now know that the bottom of the Lake is far from barren, hosting species of crustaceans, sponges, and even small creatures that feed off of the Earth’s heat and chemistry rather than the Sun. ‘Thermophilic’ (or hot water-loving) microbes thrive in the relatively high-temperatures immediately surrounding active thermal features at the bottom of the Lake and scattered throughout Yellowstone Park. These creatures may be microscopic but they have the potential to profoundly influence the medical and biological sciences.

New Robot to Explore the Depths of Yellowstone Lake

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Biodiversity Wednesday: Yellowstone Geysers

www.princeton.edu

Yellowstone National Park was established to preserve the American West, largely held up as the iconic American landscape. Picturesque Yellowstone houses the hopes and dreams of the frontier, the wilderness that is a large part of American heritage, and the final refuge for North American wildlife. Despite such a colorful and large part of American history, Yellowstone should perhaps be famous not for its astounding trees and bouncing elk, but instead for the ecosystems that depend on Yellowstone’s geysers. They are the unsung heroes of modern biotechnology and place Yellowstone’s wilderness leaps and bounds above other temperate forests in terms of biodiversity.

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