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Award Abstract #0619622

Development of a Remotely Operated Vehicle for Under Sea Ice Research in Polar Environments

Division of Polar Programs
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Initial Amendment Date: September 21, 2006
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Latest Amendment Date: September 1, 2009
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Award Number: 0619622
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Roberta L. Marinelli
PLR Division of Polar Programs
GEO Directorate for Geosciences
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Start Date: February 1, 2007
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End Date: January 31, 2010 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $547,734.00
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Investigator(s): Stacy Kim skim@mlml.calstate.edu (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Coastal Conservation and Research
Santa Cruz, CA 95062-0000 (831)345-0361
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Program Reference Code(s): 0000, OTHR
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Program Element Code(s): 1189, 5111


In marine habitats worldwide, the zone between scuba-diving depths (to 40 m) and surge-free depths (below 200 m) has been poorly studied. Under ice-covered seas, wave motion is minimal to nonexistent, and the zone between 40 and 200 m is accessible to ROVs. Polar marine research has the benefit of stable sea ice platforms for staging and deploying instruments like ROVs, but this requires a hole that is, fo rmost ROVs, a meter in diameter. This proposal develops an ROV that can be deployed through a 15 cm hole that can be drilled with a hand-held power head, requiring minimal logistical support and technical expertise. The new ROV provides access to regions that remain unstudied, expanding our scientific reach and ability to address new questions. We will develop, test, and modify the ROV while accomplishing several overlapping and interdependent science objectives, including (1) exploration and documentation of rates and patterns of ecological succession from one of the most extreme coastal habitats in the world, (2) a survey of two unique benthic habitats and communities beyond scuba diving depths (at 40-170 m), which are almost completely unknown to most researchers and assembly of individual photographs into high-resolution images of the seafloor and (3) testing of protocols for conducting sonar mapping and creating high resolution continuous bathymetric maps of the entire seafloor around McMurdo Station. The ROV will be constructed as modules; this allows flexibility to change the ROV capabilities to suit different missions. Some components can be purchased off the shelf (e.g. VideoRay high resolution and low light video cameras), but may require development of some custom integration software. Power is provided from the surface via a 2 conductor tether; bi-directional high speed data is modulated on the tether as well, providing 84 mbs of data and unlimited dive duration. The topside controls consist of a laptop computer and joystick for the pilot. Many of the control functions and display screens could be accessed via the Internet for educational demonstrations and interactions. Two graduate students will participate fully in the project. Several other Antarctic scientists have indicated a strong interest in utilizing this tool in their research and it will be available to a pool of users on completion of the project.


Kleeman, E.. "Icy Treasure.," The Scientist, v.23(1), 2009, p. 22.

Planchard, M.. "Marine research and exploration drive robotics education.," Robot, v.10, 2008, p. 84.

Williams, R.. "TriTech SeaSprite Sonar in Antarctica.," Hydro International, 2008.

Rowe, J.. "Submersible Vehicle Designed in SolidWorks and COSMOS to be Used in Antarctica.," MCAD CafĂ©, 2007.


Zook, B
Kim, S. "Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation and Imaging", 02/01/2009-01/31/2010,  2009, "GRC - Polar Marine Science".


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



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