Alvin, the little manned submarine that could, is still plugging away at the frontiers of ocean exploration half a century after it was first launched.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which operates the Navy-owned sub, celebrated Alvin’s 50th birthday on Thursday. Scientists count somewhere near 4,900 dives made by the three-man sub — and 2,600 researchers who have used it — to explore different parts of the ocean.
But Alvin was not available on Cape Cod for the occasion. Larry Madin, director of research at Woods Hole, said Alvin is in Gulfport, Miss. and would spend the day much the way it has spent every day of the past 50 years: working.
Deep-sea exploration is a risky business.
Last month, the futuristic deep-sea diving underwater robot Nereus imploded some 6 miles underwater in the Pacific Ocean. In 2010, another submersible explorer, ABE, was also lost.
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