Live! From an alien world!

Yeah, yeah, NASA has probes going off to space, but the University of Washington has installed a probe in a much more interesting location: around an active hydrothermal vent off the coast of Oregon. I just learned that they also have a live camera feed 4 times a day, accessible from your local internet.

The next 14 minute stream will be in about half an hour from when I post this. The vent is covered in tube worms, palm worms, scale worms and limpets, so it’s much more interesting than anything the Mars Curiosity Rover has found, and it’s been ongoing every day, for years.

I hope that doesn’t hurt the Rover’s feelings. It’s been doing a good job, it’s just such a dead planet that it’s been banished to.


  1. Nepos says

    Wow, PZ, why do you have such condescension for astronomy / space exploration? Did an astronomer bully you as a kid or something? Every time you write about space, you’re always dismissive, and even in posts that have nothing to do with space, like this one, you have to mock space exploration.

    Mars may not be interesting to some biologists, but I’m sure its fascinating to other scientific disciplines: geologists, climatologists, etc. Even some biologists might find the evidence of past life (if any) to be intriguing.

    It’s sad to see a scientist constantly dismiss entire fields of scientific research.

  2. says

    Have you ever noticed how sensitive astronomy/space buffs are to any irreverence towards their object of worship? Sometimes it takes a good hard kick to wake them up out of their self-absorption.

  3. Siobhan says

    Man, if my feelings were hurt every time a scientist discussed something that wasn’t my pet issue, I’d barely get out of bed.

  4. Lofty says

    Hah, I like seeing both terrestrial and extraterrestrial exploration, whatever floats your boat…

  5. says

    Exactly. I’m happy to highlight space exploration, but what annoys me is when people try to justify it as a search for alien life, or to figure out the origins of life, or worse, talk about that SETI nonsense. Be honest, if you were actually interested in biology, you’d be funding more ocean research.

  6. davidnangle says

    Hey… don’t dismiss the important scientific finding of a LACK of slimy wrigglers in Curiosity’s neighborhood. It all goes in the big book.

  7. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Hydrothermals on Earth could be (maybe) a model of potentiality for Titan and Europa, where water oceans exist due to thermal effects of gravitational/tidal forces. We really need to send (submarine)Rovers there, I keep repeating at least opportunity.

  8. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 7
    erratum correction: submarine —> submersible

  9. lepidoptera says

    Awesome. The Ocean Observatories Initiative is just so awesome!
    Thanks for sharing, PZ.

  10. Jack-booted Verbalist says

    Is it possible the light from the cameras that allows us to see this is effecting the environment?
    Super-cool, but that was the first thing that occurred to me.

  11. Nick Gotts says

    I’m happy to highlight space exploration, but what annoys me is when people try to justify it as a search for alien life, or to figure out the origins of life – PZM@5

    Hmm. I’d have thought any biologist (who hadn’t been bullied by astronomers as a child :-p) would have been absolutely itching to find out whether there’s life anywhere else in our solar system. There are three or maybe four possibilities, all of them absolutely fascinating, all telling us something about the origin of life, and two (or three) telling us a lot about current life and its evolution:
    1) There’s no life anywhere else in the solar system. Personally, this is the one I’d bet on, although I’d be utterly delighted to be proved wrong. But if it’s so (and of course, proving it would be very hard, although once we’ve looked in what seem the most likely places – which I’d currently say are the interior “oceans” of some gas giants’ moons, and possibly, beneath the Martian surface and in Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes – it would be looking a very safe bet), then that would suggest life needs a fairly unusual set of circumstances to emerge.
    2) There is life elsewhere in the solar system, which looks as if it has a common origin with that on earth. Then we’d know life can planet-hop, and quite probably started elsewhere than earth – since getting out of earth’s gravity is a lot harder than for smaller bodies. In any case, it would probably have evolved in isolation from life on earth for a long time, which could tell us a great deal about the early evolution of earth life.
    3) There is life elsewhere in the solar system, which looks as if it does not have a common origin with life on earth. Do I even need to detail why this would be a huge boost not just to the study of abiogenesis, but to the whole of biological science? “Once is a miracle, twice is a statistic.”
    4) Both 2 and 3. Riches beyond all biologists’ desire!

  12. says

    Wow. That was amazing. I wondered about the effect of the light too, but it doesn’t seem to bothering anyone. Now, if we could just manage to stop choking the oceans with plastic and other assorted trash, and stop killing off entire reefs before we have even been able to explore that world.