For just one week—Thursday, February 27, through Wednesday, March 5—the Exosuit, the newest generation of atmospheric pressure suits for deep-sea diving down to 1,000 feet, is coming to the American Museum of Natural History.
(Image courtesy of Nuytco Research Ltd.)
Weighing in at 530 pounds, the aluminum-alloy pressure suit is currently the only one of its kind. Conventional wet diving only affords routine excursions to the first hundreds feet of depth, but the Exosuit keeps the pilot protected from the effects of pressure and will allow a trained pilot to perform delicate work at depths of up to 1,000 feet for hours.
This first-production Exosuit will be tested as a scientific tool in July 2014 on the Stephen J. Barlow Bluewater Expedition.
Museum diving safety officer Mike Lombardi performs a test dive in the Exosuit. Courtesy of J. Clark
On the expedition, scientists will focus on the discovery of bioluminescent fishes and invertebrates, especially their behavior and potential medical applications. The researchers will use the Exosuit together with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), seen here, that will carry specialized photography equipment.
The Museum team working on the project includes Curator John Sparks, Research Associate David Gruber (CUNY),and Research Associate Vincent Pieribone (The Pierce Laboratory-Yale). The three were also part of the Fall 2013 inaugural expedition of Explore21, a new Museum scientific initiative that brings together new technologies and multi-disciplinary methods to field research and collections. Their work on that first journey, to the Solomon Islands, contributed to the first report of widespread biofluorescence, a phenomenon in which organisms absorb light, transform it, and eject it as a different color, in the tree of life of fishes.
A report of widespread biofluorescence in the tree of life of fishes published in January 2014 identified more than 180 species that glow in a wide range of colors and patterns. Courtesy J. Sparks and D. Gruber
The temporary display of the Exosuit will culminate on Wednesday, March 5, with the SciCafe Into the Abyss: New Frontiers in Deep Sea Exploration featuring Curator John Sparks, Research Associate David Gruber (CUNY), and Research Associate Vincent Pieribone (The Pierce Laboratory-Yale). The program is free and open to the public.
Learn more about the Exosuit here.