ROV Yogi Gets Underway In Yellowstone Lake

By on October 25, 2016

Earlier this year, we covered a work in progress to build a new remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for Yellowstone Lake. It was just an idea back then, but the exploratory craft has since become a reality thanks to some determined researchers and a Kickstarter campaign that reached a goal of $100,000 in funding.

Full cost for building the vessel was around $500,000, but crowdfunding a portion of it allowed officials at the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE), a nonprofit engineering group, to spur public interest. In a similar vein, they named the completed ROV “Yogi” in honor of the famous fictional comic book character devised by Hanna-Barbera who gets into trouble at Yellowstone National Park.

But the real value of ROV Yogi will be the insights that it can provide to scientists looking to learn more about Yellowstone Lake, the bottom of which is full of hydrothermal vents.

Just like other areas in the park that have vents, the vents in Yellowstone Lake are important to study because of the unique microbial life they likely contain. And since the water temperatures near the vents are close to that of the human body, there is the possibility that the microbes could have applications to human health.

To tap that potential, Yogi is equipped with a high-definition video camera and sampling capabilities that foundation explorers have used in past research expeditions in oceans. It is capable of diving up to 1,500 meters using a mix of thrusters and navigation gear.

Dave Wright, engineer with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration, poses next to samples collected by ROV Yogi. (Credit: Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration)

Some of the sensors onboard measure temperatures and certain chemicals. There are also samplers for sediments, biological materials and fluids from hydrothermal vents themselves.

The new ROV Yogi comes at a needed time, since an older craft in use by the GFOE has completed its useful life. It was first deployed in 1985, and was in desperate need of an update after 30 years.

A nice video of ROV Yogi’s first deployment in Yellowstone Lake is available here.

Featured Image: ROV Yogi takes a dive during sunrise on Yellowstone Lake. (Credit: Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration)

Do you think that microbial life near the lake’s hydrothermal vents holds much potential? What applications could they help? Please consider leaving a comment to share your thoughts!

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