Research vessel Falkor docked on Guam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Research vessel Falkor docked on Guam

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A non-profit research vessel funded by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt is currently docked in Guam and will test a new remotely operated vehicle off of Guam next week. The research ship Falkor conducts cutting-edge technology and research-based science around the world.

Operational since 2012, it is operated by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which was co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

Communications manager Carlie Weiner said it's not the Falkor's first time on Guam, noting, "In 2014 we found the world's deepest fish here, the ghost fish in the Marianas Trench." She said what sets the Falkor apart from federally-funded vessels is that it focuses on unusual, high-risk and high-reward research. It also focuses on using cutting-edge technology, and is one of the only vessels with a high performance computing system that lets scientists analyze data in real time.

"And right now we're here in Guam testing our brand new 4,500-meter remotely operated vehicle Subastian," she said.

Vehicle program manager David Wotherspoon said ROV Subastian will be tested in open ocean for the first time, about 45 nautical miles off Guam. He said the ROV enables scientists to conduct research at extreme depths. "We can collect biological samples, we have a suction sampler that can basically capture critters and animals underwater. We can take all types of bacterial water samples - you name it, we can pretty much do it. Scientists in this day and age really struggle to find funding to do unusual science, so therefore the cost of the vehicle in our respect is the amount of data we get to support those scientists. So the physical dollar cost is negligible to the cost of the data that we can recover."

The Falkor will explore the Mariana Backarch in November to revisit hydrothermal vents it discovered last year. "We found three new vents, and we'll get to actually take closer look with the ROV at the biology and the ecosystem that exist around these vent sites," said Weiner.

A local artist, BJ Bell, will also be aboard the ship as part of the Artist At Sea Program. You can meet Falkor scientists and learn about their cutting-edge research during a community event called "Science Sunday", which takes place at the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center in Sumay on July 17 at 2pm.

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