In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh reached the ocean floor of the Mariana Trench in the Bathyscaph 'Trieste'. During their 20-minute adventure, however, the submarine stirred up the sand so vigorously that the two men on board could not see much of their environment. In his article 'Man's Deepest Dive', Piccard vividly describes their adventurous dive.
In 2001, the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology investigated methane-eating bacteria, which deep sea robot 'Victor' had collected in the Norwegian Sea at a depth of 1,250 metres below the sea. The built-in camera enabled the researchers to control the robot from the ship. In addition to sulfur bacteria, the researchers discovered archaea on the underwater volcano Haakon Mosby: These are solitary animals from the early days of the Earth living in extreme habitats. According to marine biologist Antje Boetius, the archaea, together with these bacteria, can oxidize methane into carbon dioxide. They do not need any free oxygen to carry out this chemical conversion. A further development of the submersible robot is still in use today on the research vessel "Polarstern".
The 'Benthic Rover' was the first robot to carry out measurements in the deep sea without interruption for six months. It was equipped with 96 alkaline D batteries and measured the oxygen consumption of organisms of the deep sea floor. With the help of its measurements, effects of sinking nutrients of the water surface on the deep sea became visible for the first time. The long-term studies made this robot indispensable for the researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. "The measured data show seasonal changes during a year," said Alana Sherman, the MBARI project engineer, in an interview with Wired magazine.