Exosuit test dives prepare scientists for mission - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Exosuit test dives prepare scientists for mission

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Nicole Gerber

WOODS HOLE - It takes some serious force to move the 600 pound Exosuit in and out of the water.

The one–man submarine is currently being tested, ahead of a historic 1,000 foot dive this July 100 miles off the coast of Rhode Island into deep, dark, previously unexplored waters.

"We're looking to make observations of unique bioluminescence, so these animals create their own light, to function in the environment," said Michael Lombardi, project coordinator.

What could be the most important part of all of this, is the potential effects on medical research.

"The genes that make these luminescent compounds, are found in these animals, and once we get one of them we can decipher the code... We can then stick it in to other organisms, and potentially humans down the line," said David Gruber, the mission's scientific collaborator.

"So, literally, markers that can be attached to brain cells or attached to cancer cells, and allow us to look at the human body in an entirely new way," said Lombardi.

Though the Exosuit is a one–of–a–kind, advanced piece of scientific engineering, it still lacks some basic comforts.

"I say it's like a little iron maiden without all the pointy things. And you're stuck in there, you know, and you've got to move around, you've got to twist the arms to get them out and then you have these 'warning Will Robinson' kind arms that are not so freely moving," said Vincent Pieribone, the project's Chief Scientist.

But the hope is that after a few more test dives the team will have the Exosuit down. Future scientific missions are already scheduled for the fall.

"This is just the beginning of everything for our species, and what we can do here on earth, and we just have to get out there and experience those frontier limits," said Lombardi.

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