The man who found the sunken remains of the Titanic said Wednesday he will lead a robotic exploration of the Mediterranean floor to transmit live images of ancient wrecks and natural phenomena to U.S. students.
Robert Ballard said that in the spring he will lead a team of geologists, archaeologists and engineers on the expedition who will use a new, improved version of the underwater robot known as JASON, which was used to photograph the interior of the legendary ship.In the coming expedition, JASON will be used to explore the Mediterranean floor for geological sites and the remains of ancient wrecks, he said. Images taken by JASON, which will be carried underwater by a submersible vessel known as ARGO, will be transmitted live to the United States through a massive communications satellite downlink.
The live transmission - the first of its kind from an ocean floor to the other side of the world - will occur virtually instantaneously from the deck of Ballard's research vessel. The images will be seen by about 150,000 students and teachers in museums across the nation.
Students will watch the expedition in a full-scale replica of the control room of Ballard's research ship, which will be constructed in each museum auditorium.
"Technology is finally throwing open the door to the deep sea, a door that millions can now step through," Ballard said.
Ballard, a senior scientist at Woods Hole, is best known for leading the U.S.-French expedition that found the sunken Titanic on Sept. 1, 1985, 370 miles south of Newfoundland, then photographed the wreckage.
In July 1986 he made the first-ever bow-to-stern inspection of the rusted interior and exterior of the once-opulent ship that struck an iceberg and sank the night of April 14, 1912, at the bottom of the sea.
The former Navy officer needed to test the ARGO-JASON underwater remote-controlled sonar and camera system and suggested the Titanic as the target. Ballard used a prototype vehicle, JASON Jr., for the Titanic exploration.
His expedition determined that the Titanic's hull was not gashed open by an iceberg, as previously believed, but that seams of the hull's steel plates ruptured on impact with the ice.
Images recorded by JASON in the coming expedition will be transmitted to museums in Boston; Rochester, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Philadelphia; Memphis, Tenn.; Dallas; Los Angeles; Victoria, British Columbia; and Chicago.