A robot ocean explorer could search for lost cities and shipwrecks

On a recent moonlit harbor excursion, the conversation quickly turned to tales of piracy and exploration.

A guide shared stories of when tall masts and billowing sails hovered over coastal horizons – and intriguing figures such as Blackbeard and Barbarossa sailed the seas.

We couldn’t help but wonder about the secrets that have sunk with shipwrecks and lost artifacts strewn across the ocean floor. But these sites are hidden deep under the waves where humans usually can’t reach.

However, an explorer ventures into places no human has gone before.

secrets of the ocean

Stanford University's OceanOneK dive robot explores a wreck.

At first glance, OceanOneK looks a bit like a diver descending into the waters off the coast of France.

Stanford University researchers have designed the robot to go underwater to explore sunken planes, ships, submarines and possibly even lost cities. And this year, the humanoid robot took another step by diving 852 meters below the surface of the ocean.

The the robot has hands that can cradle priceless artifacts and bring them to the surface and stereoscopic eyes that capture the deep world in color.

But another feature makes the robot even more special: a tactile feedback system. This interactivity allows him operators to feel everything they might feel if they were diving themselves – the resistance of water and contact with objects such as vases and oil lamps from an ancient Roman ship.


Archaeologists have discovered telltale antlers that may have belonged to a centuries-old shipwreck – the one that likely inspired the cult classic “The Goonies.”

A team of volunteers found more than 20 pieces of wood in a cave off Oregon in June. The woods belonged to the 1693 sinking of the Santo Cristo de Burgos.

The Spanish galleon wasn’t laden with treasure, but local lore and the ship’s mysterious fate have become stories over time – perhaps enough to inspire Steven Spielberg as he created his 1985 film about teenagers from Astoria in search of a pirate’s treasure on the Oregon coast.

The discovery rekindled interest in finding more parts of the wreckage. After all, “The Goonies never say die!”

fantastic creatures

King penguins have reappeared on Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America after initially disappearing.

Penguins may reign supreme in Antarctica, but they also live in the wilds of Patagonia in South America. In these remote places, scientists and conservationists devote their lives to protecting flightless seabirds.

Gentoo, Magellanic and king penguins act as beacons of how ecosystems are responding to the climate crisis.

“It’s the perfect animal to get to know the ocean better,” said marine biologist Andrea Raya Rey.

King penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego disappeared 200 years ago due to overhunting but they made an unexpected return.
Learn more during Sunday’s episode of the CNN docuseries “Patagonia: life at the end of the worldat 9 p.m. ET/PT. Each new episode of the six-part series will be available on CNNgo the day after it airs on TV. You can also access CNNgo through our CNN app.

across the universe

Astronomers have found a “black widow” in space, and this dead star has grown to record size while feasting on another celestial object.

Like its namesake arachnid, the neutron star devours its companion star. This pulsating, cosmic beacon spins a dizzying 707 times per second.

The neutron star, or the dense, collapsed remnants of a colossal star, weighs more than twice the mass of our sun, making it the heaviest ever observed. When these objects become too heavy, they usually collapse and form a black hole, so this could be the boundary for neutron stars.


The Gorgosaurus fossil is mounted to show how the dinosaur walked on two hind legs.

Meet a rare Gorgosaurus, a relative of T. rex – but with more speed and a stronger bite. The 77 million year old fossil sold for just over $6 million this week at a Sotheby’s auction.

This specimen is just one of the few dinosaur skeletons that have made their way to the auction block – a trend that has scientists worried. When fossils are auctioned, they may end up in private collections, which means paleontologists cannot study them.

Who bought the “ferocious lizard” remains unknown, but the buyer will have the unusual opportunity to name it.


Settle in with these readings:

— The first sample-return mission from another planet will touch Earth in 2033, and two Ingenuity-style helicopters will help recover Martian rocks.
— Photographer Joel Sartore is on a mission to capture images of 20,000 species to prevent the extinction of creatures large and small. Learn about some of these endangered species through the lens of Sartore.
And keep an eye on the night sky this weekend for a meteor shower. Here’s how to watch.
Do you like what you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here to get the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by the CNN Space and Science writer, delivered to your inbox Ashley Stricklandwho marvels at the planets beyond our solar system and the discoveries of the ancient world.

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