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Robotic Laboratories Fan Out to Study the Seas
Since the HMS Challenger voyage in the late 1800s, expeditions to the farthest reaches of the ocean have provided the backbone of knowledge about marine science. In the wake of an ever growing list of aquatic issues like ocean acidification, sea level rise and coral bleaching, the real challenge for oceanographers is keeping up with understanding the effects of a changing climate. With some newly developed technology however, there’s now a team of robots able to lend a helping hand.

These robots are called Environmental Sample Processors, or ESPs, and they look like R2-D2 in swim floaties. Once set free in the ocean they take biological samples, perform lab experiments in situ, and can ping results back to land via satellite. Rather than outsourcing the exploratory science of oceanography to robots, ESPs are expanding the reach and scope of where scientists are able to investigate.


 
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On the Verge of Water Wars - China, India and Pakistan are just a few countries facing critical water issues in the 21st century. Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet's drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are common.


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