Marine research agency unveils unmanned underwater rare metals probe

April 6, 2012 - via Mainichi Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Japanese maritime research agency on Thursday unveiled a new unmanned underwater vehicle developed to explore for rare earth metals and other mineral deposits underneath the sea floor around Japan. The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology said it plans to put the 5-meter-long probe named Yumeiruka (Dream Dolphin) into operation in fiscal 2013.

The 2.7-ton, 800-million-yen probe can dive to a depth of 3,000 meters and detect the position of thermal mineral deposits spouting hot water containing rare earth substances, according to the agency. The probe can capture images 10 to 100 times finer than current ones, and control a stable posture by using special panels at both its bow and stern to keep its sonar constantly turned to the seafloor, the agency said.

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