Boaty McBoatface, the world's most charmingly named submersible, is about to venture into cold, deep waters on its first Antarctic science mission.
The high-tech unmanned research vessel, which is designed to brave the challenging underwater conditions near the seabed, earned its name last year after Britain's National Environment Research Council asked the internet-going public to help it name a new polar research vessel.
The supremely silly name "Boaty McBoatface" ran away with the vote, but cooler minds decided to name the vessel "RRS Sir David Attenborough" after the popular naturalist and television presenter. Boaty McBoatface did not die, however. The name instead landed on a class of bright yellow research submersibles.
Scientists from the University of Southampton and the British Antarctic Survey will launch Boaty into what the survey group describes as "some of the deepest and coldest abyssal ocean waters on Earth." Boaty will measure ocean turbulence as part of a study on the connection between those deep currents and global climate change.
"One of the most surprising features of the climate change that we are currently experiencing is that the abyssal waters of the world ocean have been warming steadily over the last few decades. Establishing the causes of this warming is important because the warming plays an important role in moderating the ongoing (and likely future) increases in atmospheric temperature and sea level around the globe," says Alberto Naveira Garabato, the expedition research lead and an ocean scientist with the University of Southampton.
Boaty and friends will launch from Chile on Friday to begin the journey to the Antarctic on board the research ship RRS James Clark Ross. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is still under construction, but Boaty will eventually join the crew of that ship when it launches in 2019.
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