A yellow robotic submarine known as “Boaty McBoatface” is set to embark on its first Antarctic mission.
The watercraft got its unique and immature-sounding name from an online competition from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in the U.K. that allowed the public to vote on the final decision.
A radio presenter for BBC originally suggested “Boaty McBoatface” out of jest, but it ultimately won the contest by a huge margin. A science minister in the U.K.’s parliament and other officials even considered tossing the name in favor of something else.
Boaty is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), meaning that it has some automatic functions, specifically the capability of transmitting data it collects to researchers via radio, according to The Guardian. (RELATED: Navy Sunk $91 Million Into A Robot Submarine That Doesn’t Work)
Boaty will travel to the abysses of the sea, reaching depths of 6,000 meters, 3.7 miles, and places that many other vessels aren’t able to. Its goal is to survey some of the deepest and darkest parts of the Antarctic Ocean, specifically the Orkney Passage, which stretches around 2 miles vertically.
“The Orkney Passage is a key choke-point to the flow of abyssal waters in which we expect the mechanism linking changing winds to abyssal water warming to operate,” the lead scientist, Alberto Naveira Garabato of the University of Southampton, told The Guardian. “We will measure how fast the streams flow, how turbulent they are, and how they respond to changes in winds over the Southern [Antarctic] Ocean.”
— Jason Karaian (@jkaraian) March 13, 2017
The National Oceanography Centre created a cartoon of Boaty to help teach children about oceanography and ocean exploration, according to the Guardian. A life-sized inflatable sub will also be featured at certain events across the country.
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