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Underwater robot may unearth climate mysteries

Two hundred meters under the sunny waves of the ocean lies the mesopelagic zone, a cold, dark section of water where humans rarely venture. This area, dubbed the “twilight zone,” houses animals like krill, squid, and jellyfish.

Twilight zone animals play a major part in the carbon cycle, bringing organic carbon from surface waters and trapping them deep beneath the tides. But these shy creatures are delicate and hard to observe, making it nearly impossible to trace their movements, let alone their impact on Earth’s climate.

Enter Mesobot. This autonomous underwater robot weighs in at about 250 kilograms, with a black-and-yellow tanklike exterior. It can track a single organism for more than 1 day without human intervention, relying on a long-lasting battery and advanced tracking algorithms to follow creatures on their daily commutes. With an array of sensors and a high-definition camera, Mesobot could help scientists learn about this mysterious ocean area—and the creatures it contains.