Monitoring water quality is vital to make sure dangerous bacteria doesn't creep into our drinking water or overcome sewage treatment plants. With support from NSF, engineers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have developed the Environment Sample Processor (ESP), a "DNA lab in a can." The size of a trash can, it can be placed in the open ocean or at water treatment facilities to identify potentially harmful bacteria, algae, larvae and other microscopic organisms in the surrounding waters. It can monitor and send results back to the lab in real time to monitor water quality. Now, the engineers are modifying the ESP so it can go mobile, working from an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
This is an episode from Science Nation, NSF's online magazine that's all about science for the people.
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