Mystic group's robot explores Yellowstone Lake

Yogi, a high tech robot used to explore the depths of Yellowstone Lake is launched during an August expedition.  (Photo courtesy of Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration)
Yogi, a high tech robot used to explore the depths of Yellowstone Lake is launched during an August expedition. (Photo courtesy of Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration)

Mystic -- A new high-tech robot developed by a local nonprofit organization recently completed its first expedition to explore Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park.

Earlier this year The Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration raised more than $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the construction of the $500,000 robot named after the cartoon bear who lives in a fictional version of the park.

“Yogi provides scientists and the park with unprecedented opportunities to study Yellowstone Lake,” said GFOE President Dave Lovalvo who has been exploring the lake since 1985. “With its high-definition video cameras and modern sampling capabilities, we can now assist researchers in collecting information about this unique environment that, in the past, has been very difficult to get to” because of its depth.

In a press release announced the completion of the summer expedition, GFOE said Yogi provides scientists “with detailed and stunning views of superheated volcanic vents, 20-foot tall rock spires, and unique creatures at the bottom of the lake.”

In an interview with The Day this spring, Lovalvo said that Yellowstone, which is in the middle of the world’s largest volcanic crater, “is a tremendous place to look at life in extreme environments” because of its hydrothermal vents. He said just 1 percent of the microbes in the lake have been identified and how life survives there is of deep interest to scientists.

“There are hydrothermal vents in the lake that host unique microscopic organisms that could have beneficial applications to human health,” he added in the press release. “Scientists think that because some of these organisms live in temperatures comparable to those inside the human body, studying their physiological processes could lead to more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases. There is a lot left to learn.”

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