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NOAA Tests ROV Little Hercules at Chase Ocean Engineering Lab

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
February 24, 2010

Electrical engineer Eric Martin surveys Little Hercules, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) at the Chase Ocean Engineering Lab on Thursday where film crews from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Geographic were filming a new, camera-equipped submersible nicknamed "flying eyeball," for an upcoming National Geographic oceanic exploration series hosted by Dr. Bob Ballard. Mike Ross, Photographic Serivces.

Before its upcoming Pacific cruise, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Little Hercules visited the engineering tank at UNH’s Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory last week for a shakedown cruise of sorts.

“This tank is pretty unique in the country. It’s a great facility,” said David Lovalvo, operations manager working with the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which brought Little Hercules to UNH for testing after engineers gave it an extensive refurbishing. The 1000-pound underwater robot -- equipped with a high-definition camera, sonar, and sensors for conductivity, temperature and depth – submerged, surfaced, and explored the floor of Chase’s 20-foot-deep tank while engineers monitored its progress.

Meanwhile, videographers from both NOAA and National Geographic recorded the testing of the so-called “flying eyeball” -- NOAA for its educational Web site and National Geographic for an upcoming series on oceans hosted by oceanographer Bob Ballard.

While Little Hercules spent just five days in Durham before heading to Hawaii, where it will explore the waters between there and Indonesia, NOAA plans to return to Chase in April to test an ROV almost eight times the size of this one. “They need a big enough tank to submerge the ROV in a controlled environment,” says Andy McLeod, lab manager of the UNH facility, which houses several joint UNH and NOAA programs. McLeod adds that the ongoing testing will mean opportunities for UNH undergraduate students to get involved in research.


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