Brussels, 23 May 2003
Around 150 marine scientists, engineers and technicians from France, Germany, Ireland, UK, Belgium, Russia and Poland left aboard the Polarstern, a double-hulled German research vessel for a 12 week expedition on 22 May.
A deep sea robot has been developed by the French institute for marine research (IFREMER) and will be deployed to help the team of European scientists study the deep sea environment of the North Atlantic and Arctic Sea.
Known as 'Victor 6000', the remote controlled submersible robot is capable of descending to depths of up to 6,000 metres. Using remote controlled cameras, grab samplers, tubes and corers, scientists can examine the ocean floor and gather sediment, organisms and water samples.
This is not the first time that the Victor 6000 has been used in an expedition aboard the Polarstern: The Franco-German partnership has been in operation since1999, contributing to scientists better understanding of the diversity of species found in the deep sea.
The most recent expedition will continue the examination of biological oceanography. During the first leg of the journey, scientists will study the deep sea corals off the south west coast of Ireland to determine their role in the ecosystem. Afterwards, the Polarstern will continue to Norway to examine the methane emissions of an underwater mud volcano. Finally, the vessel will conclude its journey in the Arctic, sampling natural deep sea variations.
For further information about the expedition, please consult the following web address: