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24 Mar 2017

Belarusian polar explorers test new deep-sea ROV in Antarctic

MINSK, 24 March (BelTA) – Belarusian polar explorers tested a remotely operated underwater vehicle Gnom designed to study the underwater flora and fauna, BelTA learned from Vladislav Myamin, senior research fellow with the Center for Bioresources at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus (NASB), who participated in the fifth and seventh Belarusian Antarctic expeditions.

“Belarusian polar explorers tested a remotely operated submersible Gnom. It is relatively small (40x25sm), and controlled by a joystick. It has four engines. The device dives into the ocean, explores the underwater world, and sends the video footage to explorers on the shore. In addition, the ROV has a grabber to take holothurias, starfish, sea urchins, and plants to the surface for further studies, which is actively used by our explorers. There are plans to take some of the samples to the NASB,” Vladislav Myamin said.

The polar explorers upgraded the device by attaching GoPro cameras to it, which shoot simultaneously with the device. “The explorers got unique photo and video footage of the underwater world near the shore. Now, it is possible to study the species, their population and possible usage,” Vladislav Myamin noted.

He said that at the moment, the main difficulty in exploring the ocean is that the ice breaks up too unexpectedly. “If the explorers had a possibility to control the ROV while on ice, they could dip the device to 100m depth and study what is there. But as they have to remain on the shore, it takes a lot of time for the ROV to reach the needed depth. It also has to pass the shallow waters first, and the cable’s length is limited to 150m,” Vladislav Myamin explained.

The polar explorers also tested Gnom in the Antarctic lakes. “There are no big animals there. A 2mm daphnia is the biggest creature there. The water in Antarctic lakes is 15-20m transparent,” Vladislav Myamin added.

The National Academy of Sciences launched the ninth Belarusian Antarctic expedition in late October 2016. Some 40 tonnes of cargo, including parts and equipment for the second facility of the Belarusian Antarctic station, was loaded on the Russian research vessel Akademik Fyodorov in early November and shipped from Minsk to Saint Petersburg. In the middle of November, six Belarusian scientists set off for Antarctica. They are expected to return to Belarus on 23 April.

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