Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Ocean Worlds
Kamaʻehuakanaloa (formerly Lōʻihi Seamount) is an underwater volcano located around 35 km (or 22 mi) off the southeast coast of Hawai’i Island, on the flank of Mauna Loa. The seamount shares several characteristics with other ocean worlds because of its intra-plate volcanic activity, which makes it a great site to explore. Studying this region will give scientists a better sense of what to expect on other ocean worlds that have hydrothermal vents, such as Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. On the NASA SUBSEA expedition, we visited several active hydrothermal sites to collect fluid and rock samples to learn more about the microbiology and geochemistry of this region. We were excited to discover diverse morphologies formed by microorganisms and basalt rocks. This album highlights some of the interesting seafloor characteristics we investigated around Kamaʻehuakanaloa!
This expedition marks the beginning of the multi-year SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) Research Program, a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and various academic centers. Bringing together both ocean and space exploration teams aboard E/V Nautilus, SUBSEA blends ocean exploration with ocean worlds research to address knowledge gaps related to the habitability potential of other planets in our Solar System.