WaterWords-Remotely Operated Vehicle
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Send an ROV
From October 7 to November 7, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) are exploring deep-sea corals, sponges, and fish habitat off the U.S. West Coast. While the expedition is underway, let us serve as your terminology tour guides to the unusual and sometimes hard-to-pronounce words that dwell in the depths of deep-ocean science.
The WaterWord: Remotely Operated Vehicle
Definition: A remotely operated vehicle (or ROV) is an underwater robot that is piloted by someone at the surface with a joystick. You can think of it as an underwater video game. But in real-life.
Etymology: Remotely comes from late Middle English (in the sense “far apart”): from Latin remotus “removed,” past participle of removere. Operated comes from early 17th century: from Latin operat- “done by labor,” from the verb operari, from opus, oper- “work.” Vehicle comes from French véhicule or Latin vehiculum, from vehere “carry.”
Use/Significance in the Earth Science Community: Humans can’t withstand the pressure or temperatures in the deep sea, so scientists use underwater vehicles, like ROVs, to access these environments. An ROV typically carries cameras and lights, as well as other tools that help collect information – like water conditions and temperature - and samples – like rocks and coral fragments - from the seafloor. ROVs range in size and can be as small as a laptop or as large as a car.
U.S. Geological Survey Use: During the EXPRESS 2019 expedition, the ROV Yogi - designed, built, and operated by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration - will be used to collect high-definition imagery and biological and geological samples to help USGS scientists better understand the distribution and health of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems. (“Why is it named Yogi?” you may be wondering. After its first project in Yellowstone Lake, the ROV was named for the picnic basket-loving cartoon bear who resides in Yellowstone National Park.)
Next WaterWord: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
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