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News Link • Underwater Exploration and Living

How Scientists Upgraded Alvin Into a Superpowered Sub

•, By Jeffrey Marlow
But after 50 years of diving everywhere from hydrothermal vents to the wreckage of the Titanic, it was ready for a makeover. Three years and $41 million later, Alvin is back in the water, with upgrades to propulsion, sensors, and all the gadgets scientists will need for the next five decades of discovery.

1. Video System During one of Alvin's first return missions, its five new HD cameras and high-intensity LEDs captured a tiny ice worm grazing on a chunk of frozen methane hydrate.

2. Viewports The old Alvin had 5-inch viewports?they could endure deep-sea pressure, but it was hard for scientists to see. Engineers doubled the area of its three forward-looking windows for a better view.

3. Sample Basket Scientists need to transport seafloor samples to onshore labs for analysis. Alvin's new basket features twice the capacity (400 pounds) to haul heavy gets.

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