Exosuit Allow Scientists to Explore Ancient Wrecks

Source: LiveScience/Kelly Dickerson - June 19, 2014 in Adventure, Featured

Exosuit Allow Scientists to Explore Ancient Wrecks
Photo: Mathias Buttet/YouTube

A treasure trove of bronze and marble statues, gold jewelry and ancient scientific instruments may be buried in sand, hundreds of feet below the Aegean Sea, and a team of explorers is going after the 2,000-year-old hoard using the most advanced diving suit ever built.

Later this year, scientists and divers plan to explore the so-called Antikythera shipwreck, which settled on the seafloor around 50 B.C. off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island. The team’s secret weapon is a 6.5-foot-tall (2 meters), 530-pound (240 kilograms) metal diving suit equipped with 1.6-horsepower thrusters that can reach the extreme depths where the ship came to rest.

The so-called Exosuit’s maiden mission will take place in July, when scientists will use the suit to observe and collect bioluminescent organisms off the coast of Rhode Island. If all goes well, the suit will be brought to Greece in September.

Brendan Foley, a maritime archaeologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts and co-director of the Antikythera mission, thinks the ship’s entire main cargo hold is buried under layers of sand. Previous explorations have only scratched the surface of what the shipwreck might hold, but the Exosuit will make an extensive exploration possible, and the mission could unearth some incredible artifacts.

“It’s likely that sediment will hold the kind of stuff we can’t even imagine,” Foley told Live Science. “Our eyes light up thinking about it. It’s the kind of thing that wakes you up in the middle of the night. These are artifacts that have never been seen since the time of Caesar.”

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