Hydrothermal vents offer some of the most striking potential analogues, a model or system, of habitats that we may one day encounter in the extraterrestrial oceans of our solar system. E/V Nautilus partnered with the SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) team to explore the Sea Cliff hydrothermal vents that form part of the Gorda Ridge tectonic plate boundary. Scientists aboard used an ROV (remotely operated vehicle), Hercules, to collect vent fluid samples to determine both the geochemical composition and possible microbial inhabitants of the superheated water plumes. Together with novel experiments testing the effects of time delays on ship-to-shore communication and science planning, the partnership between Nautilus and SUBSEA provides an out-of-this-world perspective of extreme environments in Earth’s oceans. Learn more about this expedition.
This expedition continues the multi-year SUBSEA (Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog) Research Program, a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and various academic research 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 exploration of our Solar System.