Aliens of the Deep (2005) Script

At the centre of our existence is a powerful dynamo.

The sun.

It gives us heat and light, and drives the great engine of life.


It's the food chain, and we're all a part of it.

No matter who you are, even if you're a hardcore meat-eater, your dinner started with plants somewhere turning sunlight into food.

So we are, all of us, solar powered.

Maybe the ancient Egyptians were right to worship the sun.

For four billion years, the sun has given life to everything, on land, and in the sea.

Rover One, this is Rover Two, We are at the edge of the wall and are beginning our descent, Over, My name's Dijanna Figueroa, and I'm a PhD student at UC Santa Barbara.

This is cool, Copy that. Starting descent. Over.

I think I have one of the coolest jobs in the world.

Check out those corkscrew coral down there, I'm a marine biologist. I get to go to the bottom of the ocean and study the amazing organisms that live there.

There's nothing I'd rather be doing.

Rover One, Rover One, do you copy?

This wall's pretty amazing, We're barely on the edge of photosynthesis right here, Ambient light's really going now,

You're totally reliant on the technology that's in your little bubble to dive to that depth where it's just a mystery down there.

You never know what you're gonna see.

Look at all that krill, Oh, my gosh!

Looks like we're in krill heaven over here, Rover One, Yeah, roger that. Pretty incredible.

Not seeing much of anything alive here, Dijanna, What about you?

Not much life at all, I think we're pretty much out of the photic zone, It's like being on the moon, huh?

Copy that,

Hey, look, we got a crinoid right down here, Hey, Dijanna, we got a crinoid here. We finally found a citizen.

Copy that, Yeah, it looks like we're getting deeper, and most of the animals down here look like they're suspension feeders, or particle feeders, With no light from the surface, not much can survive down here.

But there are places in the ocean where sunlight has never reached, not since the world began, and yet amazing life forms thrive there.

So when I was invited to join the new expedition to explore these places, I had to say yes.

"Keldysh," "Keldysh," "Ares" bridge.

Yeah, Dave, we're about to begin dive reef right now, We got MIR One going into the water at...

Like this, so that we've got a central area to work, Rover One is gonna stay...

I'm Jim Cameron, and here's the deal.

I love this stuff.

Exploration. Real honest-to-God deep ocean exploration.

This is way more exciting than any made-up Hollywood special effects.

These deep ocean expeditions always seem like space missions to me.

So, why not combine outer space and inner space?

Sure, we'll take marine biologists.

But why not take astrobiologists and space researchers?

So that's how a bunch of space scientists wound up out here, a thousand miles from the nearest land, where, right under our feet, down in the darkness, are the most insane alien life forms that have ever been discovered.

Two ships, four manned submersibles, forty dives at ten sites in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

I like big operations, but this one was off the hook.

So we'll come down together, like this, and we'll try to stay a couple of meters apart, because we don't want to drift off, If the communications are compromised with the multiple subs in the water, all working on the same frequency, some in Russian, some in English, I want to make sure we stay on visual...

The plan was to coordinate a four-sub dive, using both ships, so two MIRs and two Rovers could rendezvous at the bottom.

This would be a world first.

Hi, Dr, Sagalevitch, Anatoly Sagalevitch heads the Manned Submersibles Laboratory for the Russian Academy of Sciences.

We've been working together for almost a decade.

There we are, The adventurers, It's all his fault that we're doing this, because we did Titanic twice, in '95 and '01, and we did Bismarck.

Sometime around the middle of Bismarck, Anatoly says:

"You know, these wrecks are good, they're interesting, but you have to do something real,"

"We have to do some science, Something real,"

Genya Chernaiev is one of the Russian MIR pilots.

He's been flying submersibles for over 20 years now.

The most important thing about this boat, of course, is the view, 320 degrees unobstructed, This view makes the Rovers unique, but because of the acrylic sphere, they can't go as deep as the MIRs.

So they'd only be joining us for the Atlantic leg of the journey.

We also had Jake, the little remotely operated 'bot we'd used to explore the Titanic and Bismarck wrecks.

Jake had been modified to test a variety of sampling tools.

My brother Mike is Jake's inventor and our pilot on this expedition.

His challenge was to steer Jake safely around the volcanically active vent sites, and not fry our little 'bot.

This would hopefully allow us to get up close and personal with the creatures we'd come to see.

We've checked the decks twice, all the rigging looks squared away, My other brother was with us too.

JD was the safety and communications officer on board the "Ares."

Or, as he called it, "crap job number 27."

Our launch procedure is as per the book, Everything's straightforward, She's first, she's second, Recovery is determined by Jim from the bottom, Now, recovery can go either way,

We chose the "Ares" for the giant A-frame at her stern.

Its massive hydraulic cylinders can lift the sub off the deck and out over the water with ease.

It's one of the safest ways to launch a large payload off of any ship, and we constantly tested our procedures until we had everything dialed in for the upcoming four-sub dive.

All right, let's do this, All stations, let's do this, I'm gonna need everybody to keep their ears open, be observant, Keep your eyes open for the lights of the other submersibles, And, you know, it's gonna be challenging, But I think we can pull it off, All right, here we go, Jacks up!

Finally, everything was in motion.

And in the middle of the North Atlantic, a thousand miles from the nearest land,

our little expedition was about to make history.

We're in motion, We're in motion,

Nice and slow, blue winch, Nice and slow, Now we're gunnin' runnin', huh? Yeah, At least, that was the plan.

All stop, all stop, All stop,

I copy you, Lima Charlie. The only problem we have right now is the A-frame. Over.

I'll let you know as soon as the crew gets it sorted.

About an hour and 15 minutes ago, we had a safety stop, Uh, what we know is the A-frame went south, It's a complete breakdown of the cylinder, It ultimately amounts to a cold stop, These bolts all shot, And all this paint that's been here forever busts loose because of that situation, And it happened on that one as well, Yeah, right, I mean, we're in the middle of the ocean with a broken A-frame, That's what it sounds like to me, How you gonna get that fixed up?

Call A-frames"R"Us? You know, have their little service ship come by?

Thousand miles from shore?

We don't have to move on it immediately, but it's at least something we need to start processing, Well, I mean, if they can't fix this, and we don't have an alternate way of launching the sub, it's over, the expedition's over, If you are going to explore, you have to accept the fact that on the one hand there's risk. You have to stay up all night long thinking about every single factor that's involved in what you're doing, and making sure that you've thought of everything.

'Cause if you can eliminate all the things you can think of, you've eliminated nine-tenths of what can go wrong, That way, when that last one-tenth pops up, and you're in the middle of it, you don't have to worry about all the other stuff 'cause you've dealt with that, Look, to be completely serious, your idea about cutting that bulwark away at the side is the best idea I've heard for an alternate plan yet, Just cut the side right out of the ship, I say we go clear that with the captain right now, OK, Well, plan B,


All right, we can talk it through tonight, but I don't think we should try for an all-up drill tonight, I mean, people have been up since 4:30 in the morning,

It became apparent that the only way to get the subs off the "Ares" was to use the main crane and by sliding the submersibles off the side of the vessel.

With a crane that is 30, 40, 50 feet above the actual pick point of the submersible, once an object starts to swing, you can't stop it.

It's called the wrecking-ball effect.

Once it gets away from you, you can't get it back.

I'm guessing we've got six to eight feet of travel here, I'm thinking we should use...

It ultimately resulted in Jim writing a 40-page manual on what he thought the best way to launch the vessel was.

This eye feeds into that...

So we spent a long time devising four separate pick points, as well as eight different points of connection to the submersible to stop it from swaying.

We would practice all night long.

At dawn the following day, we were ready to attempt it for the first time.

We spent the past 24 hours rebuilding the entire launch and recovery system, which required us to cut this wall out, rerig every capstan, rerig every block and tackle,

We've got about 20 different points of rigging, Every single point has to be checked by me, by hand, Any single point fails, anything, from the blue winch to the cable itself, snaps, breaks, not only do we lose the sub, but we risk the chance of losing somebody on the deck, I'm looking at every pulley under tension, and it's looking at me,

Keldysh, be advised, we are go for launch ops, Deck crew, be advised we have 15 minutes before we start launch operation, Paul? Yeah, roger that, DP control, MIR One's going into the water right now, Let's see the crane, guys,


Oh, yes, Stow that, get on the line, Bye-bye, Tim, Straps off,

Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going,


DP control to "Keldysh." MIRs are beginning their descent. Over.

Say goodbye to the surface world,

I love this part, Everything is a go, We're ready to vent, SO, SO, Rover One, Go ahead, Rover One.

We are about to start our tandem descent,

OK, here we go, And three, two, one...

Venting. Go, go, go. OK, we're venting now, Venting now,

All right, Rock and roll, Here we go,

The descent to Lost City takes about 30 minutes, which is plenty of time to think about what you're about to do.

My name is Loretta Hidalgo, and I'm an explorer.

Copy that, Rover One, This is Rover Two, hearing you loud and clear, My goal is to one day explore the reaches of space.

That is the bomb, Yeah! We're at 840 meters, Surface, this is Rover Two, We are at 840 meters, We are on the bottom,

God, these structures are gorgeous, OK, there's the rendezvous point, and they are right there, MIR Two, MIR Two, this is Rover Two. Do you copy? Over.

MIR Two, MIR Two, this is Rover Two, Do you copy?

That's affirmative, Rover Two. We have a very good visual on you.

We were doing something that no humans had ever done.

This was the first time that four deep submersibles had ever dived together.

The water pressure that you get down at 3,000 feet is mind-boggling.

If you've ever carried a bucket of water, you know that's about a foot of water.

Now imagine being under 3,000 feet of water.

And all that weight of all those buckets lined up on your head are all pressing down on you and on the submarine.

Definitely not something that humans were evolved to do.

OK, Loretta, can you relay to Mike that we are in position for 'bot ops? Over, Copy, MIR Two, MIR Two, are you go for 'bot deploy?

Uh, roger that, We'll get set for 'bot ops, Over, OK, There it is, Yeah, there he is, There's Jake, Can you see his tether spinning out?

It's like a spider spinning its web,

I'm just gonna pull a little tether out here, to the left, into the current, and then I'll yaw back to the right, We were really pushing the boundary of being out in an extreme environment.

I had this incredible experience of feeling like I'd been transported into the future.

Hi, 'bot!

That I was on a space mission, and we were watching another spacecraft coming up to work with us.

Hi, Mike, Get me out of here, Affirmative, Affirmative,

Push in a tiny bit in here, and I get just right in as close as I can go,

Oh, wow, Are you seeing the structure?

Yeah, Beautiful, OK, Mike, If you come right about 30 degrees, and come forward, you'll come to a big fan right on the corner of that rock, Over, Copy that.

Oh, this is gorgeous, I feel like I'm out there, Are you liking this? I'm loving this,

OK, I'm gonna have to come up a little bit, Well, we're doing pretty good here, I've encountered a little more current than I expected right here, Oh, my gosh!

Hello, Mr, Big, He's like, "Don't even mess with me,"

Oh! Oh, my God,

Wow,

Wow,

Kevin Hand is one of our astrobiologists.

And he's a brilliant guy.

Really.

That's one of the interesting things I think about the Europan ocean, is that you can ask two questions about life on Europa, Could life have originated on Europa?

Astrobiology is the study of life on other worlds.

But since Kevin doesn't have any real extraterrestrial specimens to analyze yet, he's out here doing the next best thing:

Looking at life in the extreme conditions of the deep ocean.

He's a theory guy and he's never been to sea before, let alone inside a submersible headed to the bottom of the ocean.

Here we go, Into the unknown,

Rover Two, MIR Two copies you loud and clear now. Loud and clear now.

Yeah, it looks like it goes down for a long ways,

MIR Two is right above us, Very few people get to see MIR Two from this angle, That is fantastic,

The scale of these things is so much larger than I had imagined, It's just amazing, We've got this huge, huge carbonate structure, Unbelievable, Copy that. Right rotator going up, rotator going up.

It's just the hot water just flowing up and slowly forming stalactites, Upside-down stalactites are slowly deposited, millennium after millennium, So what's interesting about these is that you don't necessarily need plate tectonics, You need some means for the water to react with the deep mantle rock, And then you get the serpentinization reaction which produces the heat that drives the formation of such systems, It's absolutely phenomenal, Do you want to go ahead and proceed to the summit? Over.

Roger that,


There's warm water up here, Yeah,

The vent fluid is just coming right up out of here,

Wow, This is just amazing, Our technology is just at the level now where we can safely explore the depths of our own ocean, Kinda friable, Yeah, OK, Yeah! Look at that, We got a rock, Hey, we got a sample,

Rover One, Rover One, this is Rover Two, Do you...

Oh, my goodness, look at that! Oh, Christ!

Holy cow, OK, stop it, stop it, stop it, Kevin. You seeing this?

Look at that thing, That is absolutely unreal, See if you can get your lights right on it.

Roger that, Oh, my goodness, Look at that, it's just amazing, Oh, man, look at this thing, Look at this thing, This is incredible,

How can something like that be alive?

How does a creature like this work? That is absolutely phenomenal, Beautiful, Absolutely beautiful, See the reticulation inside this thing? Look at that, That is amazing,

I have no idea what that is, No, That's what I love about this stuff, Every single dive, you're gonna see something you've never seen before, And you might even see something that nobody's ever seen before,


Are you seeing this thing? Look at this, This is, like, the ugliest fish in the world,

Oh, he's got feet! Look, he's got feet, He's got, like, little toe-socks,

The thing about deep diving is you always need to expect the unexpected.

Oh, my God, look at that squid, Oh, it's massive, Look, look, look, Quick, look, See it?

Absolutely fantastic,


Look at that fish, You see that guy?


All right, we got us a Dumbo, Been hoping for this for a while,

What a beautiful animal, What a beautiful animal, Look at that, Like a dancer,

What an amazing creature,

God, you could watch this guy all day, Almost looks like he's glowing from within,


MIR One, MIR One, This is Rover Two, Do you copy?

MIR One, MIR One, do you copy? This is Rover Two.

MIR One, MIR One, This is Rover Two, Do you copy?

It's intermittent, Jim, Sometimes yes and sometimes no,

Uh, roger, Mike, We're seriously low on power and will have to leave the bottom, I cannot get ahold of Vince, We must go up,

Genya, We must go up, Oh, he's trying to say something, about...

He's trying to say... Look out the porthole, I can't see him, Can you call surface?

He's saying, "Up and over"? Might be, We need you to contact the surface that we are ascending,

Can't read it, Zoom in, Let's see if you can read the sign,

"Contact surface, must surface," Understood, We'll contact them right now,

Ares surface comm, Rover Two leaving the bottom at X minus 244, Y minus 25, depth 741 meters,


So, how was it, Jim? We got the goods, We definitely got it,

Ah, that thing is phenomenal, How you doing?

What did you see down there? Oh, it was just incredible, Just incredible, There was a huge, um... Was it a jellyfish?

Some type of gelatinous...

Massive, Like, a meter, We think that it was feeding off of the, uh, off the amphipods and the plankton and the copepods that were next to...

Hanging out at the lights? Hanging out at the light, yeah, How's it work? Man, we don't know, But it's there, So it's working somehow, Exactly, Life's pretty cool, Yeah, absolutely fantastic, Welcome back, Kevin, Thanks, Team Rover, Go team Rover!

My name is Maya Tolstoy, and I'm a marine seismologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

I study underwater volcanoes, and particularly I study the earthquakes that these volcanoes make.

And I'm trying to understand how the Earth is made, how the surface of the planet is formed.

I'm going to be deploying ocean-bottom seismometers.

Those are instruments that listen to earthquakes and other noises on the ocean floor.

In the ocean, the light only goes so far.

And so sound allows you to basically see the bottom of the ocean, and to see into the ocean crust, the way that light lets you see on the surface.

We put the instruments over the side of the ship. They drop, they gather the data.

Normally, I don't have to dive in order to do my job.

So it was very exciting to finally see the environment that I've been working on for over a decade.

MIR two, copy, We have a visual on you. We are inbound.

Roger that, Can you see them? Yeah, It's out my window, It looks like a spaceship,

Wow, That's incredible, That's like another planet,

It's such an incredible world down there, and it's so important to the formation of our planet.

It's where two thirds of the surface of our world was created, and we still know so little about it.

Do you see how they're all shiny and glassy?

Oh, yeah, Look at that, That shows that it cooled superquickly, That's just, like, it really turns to glass, basically, To obsidian, it's called, Look at that, And you see how there's hardly any sediment on it?

That's when it's really fresh, This is brand-new crust we're looking at, Wow, Now, can you just imagine being down here when this stuff erupts?

Molten rock oozing out and hitting the freezing cold water, I just can't imagine it, It must have been insane, Must look pretty cool, For the few seconds before you die,

I miss my son.

He's five months old.

It was such a hard decision to make to come out here.

But I think it's important to study one of the most remarkable phenomenon we've ever discovered in the oceans.

MIR Two, just keep going upslope on this heading, The chimneys should be at the top of this sulfide mound, Over, Roger that,

Wow, There it is,


All around our world, running down the middle of the oceans like seams on a baseball, are these cracks, these spreading centers, where the crust of the planet is literally ripping apart.

Up above, the sea looks normal.

But two miles down, it's a violent landscape where fresh lava flows out of the crack and freezes into rock.

When the sea water seeps down to the molten rock just beneath the new crust, it gets superheated, far hotter than boiling.

But it can't boil, because of the intense pressure at the bottom of the ocean.

So it comes roaring up out of the sea floor.

When the superheated water hits the freezing ocean, minerals condense out, forming the chimneys, and creating the black smoke.


When you see black smoke, what you're really seeing is a blowtorch of superheated water.

Uh, we're getting in position to get a water sample from the top of one of these structures, Over, Yeah, roger that. That's good.

OK, let's get in as close as we can on this chimney, Genya, These chimneys reach 750 degrees Fahrenheit, and that's hot enough to melt the windows of your submersible.

That's a bad thing.

Mental note: Don't melt the windows of the submersible.

Guys, we're getting really close to this black smoker here, Close enough? I think this is maybe a little too close, Uh, well, we're starting to get into the plume, Right underneath the sub, Genya, move back. You better move back.

OK, I start to move back,

That's normal. We usually drive right in 'em like that.

We were right on top of it, That was a little freaky,

That's pretty cool, Kevin, The geology's fascinating. But it's not why I came out here.

Keldysh, Keldysh, MIR Two, We are on the bottom, Depth 3526 meters, And we are at the top of the Moose structure, Over,

These sites were first visited 25 years ago by geologists.

And they weren't looking for life.

But it wasn't until they got into a submersible and went down to the bottom to see with their own eyes...

It was like, "Oh, my God. There's life down here, and it's beautiful. "

It's an entire ecosystem.

Wow, That's awesome,

Copy that. That's what we're imaging right now. Over.

Look at all that hot water, They're right in the flow,

Oh, man, Check this out, It's like liquid fire, and these guys are dancing right next to it, They are really tickling the dragon's tail, The science community was stunned.

How could these animals be living in these toxic chemicals, at these pressures, around extremes of temperature from freezing to beyond boiling in just a few inches?

How could there be a whole ecosystem living without sunlight?

And not just living, but thriving!

Unbelievable, This is the most insane amount of biomass I ever saw in my life, Wow, Holy pancakes, Batman,

And they're right there in the flow, just enjoying the hydrothermal fluid, Oh, look at 'em swarming, They love it in the smoke, Oh, yeah, The vents were providing the energy for life.

It was coming from chemicals dissolved in the water, coming from inside the Earth itself.

Not photosynthesis, but chemosynthesis.

It was a whole new basis for life, one that didn't need the sun, only water and heat.

That party's been going on down there in the dark for the last billion years, and it's gonna be going on for the next billion years, They're just doing their thing, it's got nothing to do with us, the sun could go out tomorrow and they wouldn't know and they wouldn't care, Exploring and discovering ecosystems like this, which may not depend on energy from the sun, opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities when we think about the search for life elsewhere.

Wherever we've found liquid water on planet Earth, we've found life.

That's pretty profound.

If we find liquid water elsewhere in the solar system, are we gonna find life?

We won't know unless we start searching.

In fact, NASA is planning a mission called the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter.

AKA JIMO.

At 120 feet long it's gonna be several times longer than any planetary probe ever launched, and its nuclear reactor will power ion engines and a big science radar.

The main goal of JIMO will be to use that radar to look down through the ice of Jupiter's three largest moons.

First, it will study Callisto, and then it'll move to Ganymede.

And these are bizarre moons, the largest of Jupiter's 61 known moons.

Callisto and Ganymede both have crusts of ancient ice and rock that may hide oceans miles below the surface.

Further in is Io, which is a moon of fire, not ice.

Io's eccentric orbit causes it to deform as it circles Jupiter.

This intense tidal pumping pulls at the moon like taffy, generating friction at the core which then becomes heat, and this heat drives the solar system's largest active volcanoes.

There are constant eruptions, rivers of lava, and volcanic plumes shooting hundreds of miles into space.

But the gem of the Jovian system, at least as far as the search for life is concerned, is Europa.

It's here where fire and ice come together in perfect harmony.

The scientific community is relatively certain that beneath the icy, chaotic shell of Europa, there exists a liquid water ocean, with twice the volume of all the Earth's oceans combined.

So tidal heating is working here too, keeping that water from freezing.

And possibly providing energy for life.

The same kind of life that we're finding at the deep vents here on Earth.

You see all that out there, all that yellow and white and orange?

That's just a huge colony of microbes, This is just acres and acres of this bacterial mass, Look at that, This could be like a little glimpse back in time, Yeah, couple of billion years ago, Hydrothermal vents have been on planet Earth since the oceans were formed.

It may have been sites like these around which life itself began.

If we can just sort of scoop up the top area of that, maybe a little bit of the sediment below, Excellent, Nice sample, You can see all the stringy little filaments that make up the mat, Extremophiles are simply life forms that thrive in the extremes of temperature and pressure and radiation, environments that to us are deadly.

These microbes go far beyond anything which our imagination could conceive of back when we first started studying where we might find life.

Now, if we find anything on Europa, it's probably gonna look just like this, Absolutely,

So I think if we're gonna try to get evidence for life on another planet, we've certainly gotta look for evidence for life on our own first, It's the only sample we've got, right?

Pan Conrad. She was one of our senior astrobiologists.

She comes from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and she's one of those valuable people who knows how to make science fun.

So you know when you were little, and you used to play like you were in a submarine?

That was this, How cool is this? This is way better than the cardboard box,

Tolya, just see if you can ease in on this structure, Absolutely, It's just like the Mushroom Planet, It looks exactly like a mushroom,

Ah, that's gorgeous, It's like a mirror,

That's the hot water forming a surface, That is very cool, See the bacteria growing right along the edge, right in the hot flow?

I see it, It's all bacterial mats on top, Certain molecules found in living organisms will glow when they're hit with an ultraviolet laser.

Is that a good place for a fluorometer reading?

I think this is a great place for a fluorometer reading, We designed our life detection tool in such a way that we could point it at a rock and say:

"Aha! There's evidence of life over there. "

Lights out, OK, I'm going to start the measurement now, Ready...

Go, OK, Lasers firing, We got a lot of signal here, Whoo, this is good, We've got, like, 14,000 counts in ultraviolet, Very interesting, Doctor, But is it life?

There's definitely organic stuff there, It's so important to study what you can about extreme environments on the Earth before you go out into the solar system and look for life.

MIR Two, do you copy?

Go for it, Ares.

My name is Kelly Snook. I work at NASA. I'm a planetary scientist.

Copy that, I study the process of exploration.

Rover Two and MIR Two...

What I do in my day-to-day work is learn how to use the Earth as a training ground for going to another planet.

So here I was looking for the analogs.

Baboom! You did it, It's in the basket, Slam dunk, Slam dunk from the center line,

These, I thought these were bacterial, so I told Anatoly to pick some up, Most people were on a ship, in the middle of the ocean, studying the hydrothermal vents or making a film.

I was on Mars.

And the people that were down at the bottom of the ocean, they were out on the surface of Mars.

Everything that we do in the ocean is ten times harder than you think it's going to be, and you go in thinking it's gonna be really hard, you know?

So I don't see Mars surface ops... Same with space, ...being any different, Yeah, hopefully we'll have time in that day to sort of debug our comm protocols and the way we're interacting...

My team included astronaut Megan McArthur from NASA Johnson Space Center, and astrobiologist Tori Hoehler from NASA Ames Research Center.

We worked together to explore ways in which humans and technologies can improve the science and discoveries we'll make on the Moon and Mars.

This combination of science and technology, especially in an environment like under the ocean, it's very similar to space exploration.

The submersible is like a pressurized rover on Mars, and so we were using this as an opportunity to learn lessons about space.

Go ahead, Roberto, If you can find any microbial mats right near the chimney...

Uh, I guess that depends on how we're able to configure the MIRs, and how...

I would talk to the remote scientists at NASA, and I would get their requests for particular rocks, and I would process the rocks and prepare to take them back to Earth.

I think it's probably loaded with bacteria, I think the white stuff is most likely, like I say, sulfur oxidizers, Analogs like this are key to understanding how we'll do scientific exploration on the Moon and Mars.

Will we need manipulators, like we have on the MIR? Probably.

And how will we handle the problems and technical glitches that no doubt we will have on an extended planetary mission?

Whatever you just switched off you better switch back on, Right, Rover One and MIR One, be advised we have lost our starboard horizontal thruster, Uh, we've lost AC and we have lost pan and tilt, so we're probably gonna have to abort, Every event here, both planned and unplanned, generates data we can apply to the future.

Much of what I study is how humans interact with the technology that allows them to accomplish their tasks.

Some of the technology is very simple, but in space and at the bottom of the ocean, nothing is simple.

Yes!

Oh...

Is it gonna go? No!

Ay...

You can't rotate the scoop more? It's on the edge of this carousel, You can put it in, Can you rotate the scoop? I did, I did, It's in? One piece has gone inside, Yeah? OK, good, All right, you got it, You got it, One is out, one is in, The better we can integrate technology like this, and robotics, into our human exploration systems, the more effectively we'll be able to explore the solar system.

I feel like I'm in a spacecraft, I'm sorry?

I said, I feel like I'm in a spacecraft, You are, That's right, You are in...

Inner space, ...the world's best spacecraft, to explore this planet, You're in it, The experience of human beings inside the submersible is what we're most interested in.

It's Marge, It's Marge Simpson's hairdo,

It's not only the hardware in the process, but the communications between the people and the robots, because the scientist is the interface between the technology and what we're trying to study.

OK, guys, what I'd like you to do is come to your right when you've had a look at that, 'cause we're not getting much of an image here.

And the current is of course not favorable, That's OK, It wouldn't be fun if it was easy, right?

What's that fish? It's a big fish. Don't be scared.

If you want to take a sample of any of these small sulfide rocks down here at the bottom, that would be fine.

It's a very technologically difficult thing to do, to pick up a rock at the bottom of the ocean and put it into a sample collection device.

That's really at the core of what we're interested in.

How are humans going to do these small, easy tasks in a difficult environment?

Whoa, we got currents, Come on, gripper, Grip, It's got it.

Oh! Hang onto it, baby, All right, you got it, Barely got it, but you got it, OK, try to get it over to the carousel, Well, a task that would take a person in the field a couple of minutes on Earth can take hours on Mars.

Every step is a new challenge.

Now translate right just a little bit. About another two inches.

We can't send 150 people to Mars right away. We would send probably six.

These few people will be responsible for all the science and exploration on the surface.

Kind of like proxies for the thousands of people back on Earth interested in the mission.

Mars is the obvious first place to look for life in the solar system, because there's evidence that the Earth and Mars share a similar history of abundant water.

And one of the most important key elements of life as we know it is water.

Now, the Mars you see today is dry, dusty, cold, apparently dead.

But if you set the way-back machine, it didn't look like that.

If you could imagine if life was evolving on Mars, and there was an impact great enough...

based on what we know now about extremophiles, we think that life could survive a trip from Mars to Earth in a rock.

It's possible that life could be viable after that long of a trip.

We might all be Martians. We might all be from another solar system entirely.

All right, Put up your hand if you would sacrifice ten years of your life to go to Mars, I'm going, Sure, How would you talk your husband into letting you go to Mars?

Say, "All right, honey, Now, it's only gonna be for five years, OK?"

"And I'm gonna write every day, we'll have email,"

Whoa, That's a loaded question there, It's funny, 'cause when you asked me the question, "Would I go to Mars?"

I raised my hand without even thinking about the consequences or life at home, My husband, my cat, my mom and dad...

My cat, That'd be hard, I think he'd say, "Go for it," I really do, 'Cause I think all of us, we're all human and we all have that exploration bug, and if somebody that we love has the opportunity to go out there and represent humanity and explore, I think he'd push me and go for it,

When you've been on the "Keldysh" for almost a month, it's very easy to pretend that you're on your way to Mars.

You're far away from everything you know, in a small environment with the same crew, who are there for the same professional interests that you are.

They're there to explore, they're there to do science.

The Russians are very resourceful.

They were showing us some of their sampling tools, and they have a tool that can sample just about anything you'd want to sample.

Some of the things are really clever.

Or as simple as the Nikolai pot, which is basically a pot we stole from the cook, Nikolai.

It's something that I just love getting to be a part of.

You know, we get to be in their culture, and look at how they do engineering and how they do operations.

It's an incredible environment to be working in.

I love it because of the way it brings people together.

Victor, Obed?

Your... Your lunch?

Yeah, Yes, that's right, Yeah? Yay!

This expedition captured a lot of that spirit.

OK, all right, The idea of doing something that was really difficult, and how people can come together to make something like that happen.

Poyehaly.

The way they communicate with each other.

No, forward,

Victor's been practicing, Vitka, khorosho, khorosho.

One of the things I enjoy about Russian culture is the way that you integrate play and work.

Vosem-pyaty.

I mean, I've studied Russian in college, because I always wanted to work with the Russian space program.

And the "Keldysh" is a great analog for, you know, a space launch complex.

And I understood what all the astronauts are always saying, when they say that the technicians and the engineers on the pad are the real heroes, making sure that you're gonna be safe.

This expedition captured a lot of that spirit.

Engines start.

While we were out at sea, two incredible explorers were already on their way to Mars.

"Spirit" got there first, blazing into the thin Martian atmosphere at over 12,000mph.

"Opportunity" arrived a few weeks later.

Landing for both was a nerve-racking affair.

Current altitude approximately 25,000 feet.

Awaiting confirmation.

We're moving at a speed of 173 miles per hour. We are near our terminal velocity.

Cleaner separation of end has been detected.

No signal at the moment.

Deep-space network tracking stations at Canberra searching for primary signal.

We're on Mars, everybody.

Equipped with high-resolution stereoscopic cameras, and a Swiss army knife's worth of geological and chemical science instruments, the mission of the Mars Exploration Rovers was clear:

Find evidence of water in Mars' past, when conditions may have been more favorable to life.

You can learn a lot from a rock, if you know how to ask.

And you know where to look.

Of the two rovers, "Opportunity" really hit the jackpot.

The ancient bedrock was absolutely loaded with hematite, an iron-bearing mineral that usually forms from interaction with liquid water.

Then scientists detected jarosite, a mineral that suggests the rocks may have been soaked in acid ground water, or in a hot springs environment, like Yellowstone National Park.

Other clues included empty cavities inside rocks, where salt crystals may have dissolved away, and rippled sediment patterns, hinting at the presence of free-flowing water over thousands of years.

And then there were the "blueberries." Tiny spheres of hematite, eroded out of the rocks and spilled out all over the surface.

On Earth, spheres like this form in the presence of water over time.

Both "Spirit" and "Opportunity" helped confirm where the water was on Mars, but they were not equipped to tell us where the water is now.

That job fell to the Mars Odyssey Orbiter, which detected what is believed to be massive quantities of water ice, just a few feet below the surface, with the highest concentrations at the poles.

In 2008, "Phoenix" will rise from the ashes of the Mars Polar Lander, and, using many of that failed mission's spare parts, will land near the Martian north pole.

And, for the first time ever, a Martian probe will do more than scratch the surface.

"Phoenix" will dig deep into the permafrost and sample Martian water for the very first time.

Everything we learn about Mars makes the story more exciting.

There's evidence of past water, there's evidence of past volcanism, the chemistry checks out.

All the ingredients for life are there. That's why we keep searching.

Of course, that's not the only way we're searching for life in the universe.

Look at this, he's computer coordinated, I know, It says, "SETI Institute" on your shirt and on your laptop, It's a little over the top, That's impressive, You're putting the message out there, Well, you know, they gave it to me, One of the groups I'm affiliated with is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute.

And what the SETI Institute does is try to detect intelligent signals from distant civilizations around another star.

To do this, Frank Drake, one of the founders of the SETI Institute, wrote down just a set of factors known as the Drake Equation.

And it includes factors such as the fraction of stars around which planets form, the fraction of habitable planets on which life emerges, and the fraction of life that then evolves to intelligence, and eventually to becoming tool-using civilizations that can communicate with other civilizations in the galaxy.

The last factor is the lifetime of the intelligent communicating civilization.

At the same time that we develop the technology to communicate with beings on a distant planet, we also develop the technology to annihilate ourselves.

And if that's standard for intelligent civilizations in the galaxy, we're not going to have much luck searching for life elsewhere.

Let's say that my kind of modified Drake's Equation says that life was possible on any planet, any distance from a sun, or not even anywhere near a sun, or any planetarylike body, like a moon of Jupiter or whatever, that had ice around it, OK?

And had some kind of tidal pumping from some other gravity source near it, so that it had a liquid core and it was generating heat, and it was making heat like these hydrothermal vents that we're seeing, If we said there were maybe ten or twenty or fifty times as many worlds like that, isn't it logical to assume that when we get a call from one of your buddies out there, when SETI Institute finally picks up a signal, it's gonna be coming from somebody who had to bore up through ice and set their transmitter out on the ice?

Statistically, isn't that indicated by what we're talking about here?

There's a flaw in that statement, and that is: Ice worlds are most common, We have no idea about that right now, We got one liquid water planet in our solar system, and we've already identified three potential hydrospheres that are ice-covered and far from the sun, Right, But...

Based on our own immediate experience, it's a three-to-one ratio, Sure, sure, Do we know if any of them are habitable?

We don't, but we gotta go look, Right,

We may find that icy little worlds like Europa are where the bulk of liquid water exists in our galaxy.

And, in fact, that's where the bulk of life may exist.

Who knows?

But it is really interesting to think about the evolution of intelligence in an icy world system.

Would you evolve to intelligence?

Would you wonder about the bottom of that ice shell?

Our primary focus at this site will be for the mussels and the crabs, OK, And you need mussels and crabs, and we're gonna do the crabs in a crab trap?

We're gonna do crab traps, So we're hoping that whatever we fix in the crab trap will trap these guys, Now, do you care where we put the crab trap?

Preferably where there's crabs,

Yes, we're currently at X coordinates minus 106, Y coordinates minus 76. Over.

The story of the vents is really the story of the microbes.

This is it, right here, Bottom of the food chain, Waving fields of bacteria,

The vent fluid is a kind of liquid sunshine, powering the whole food chain down here.

Some of the animals are eating the bacteria, some of them are preying on the ones that eat the bacteria.

It's kind of ethereal, huh?

Who would have thought that bacteria could be beautiful?

The animals are eating the bacteria, but there's something else going on here too.

It's symbiosis, a dance of life between partners of different species.

Vent animals, like the shrimp and the mussels, have formed symbiotic relationships with microbes that can live off of the chemicals in the vent fluid.

Oh, we're near something big, guys, Large mussel beds, This is the jackpot,

I study the metabolic and molecular physiology of mussels and crabs that live at these deep sea vents.

I'm focusing on their ability to withstand variations, large variations, in temperature.

The genus Bathymodiolus is the scientific name for the mussels that we study.

We've got a mussel mound over to the right, Genya, I think this will be a perfect spot to do our mussel collections, Yes, You see what I'm talking about?

I think these are mixed sizes, Or can you get some small ones?

We will take small and big also, But I need small, Only small? Only small, OK, Malinky. Yeah? Is that small?

Yes, OK, All right,

Keldysh, Keldysh, MIR One, We have collected a full batch of mussels in the clam bucket, X minus 487, Y minus 64,

Oh, yeah! Bingo, baby,

Looks like you got your crabs, Yes. We got crabs. Big time. It's, like, full.

You did it, you did it!

Bio box is closed, We have crabbage, We have crabbage.


Wanna open that? Yeah, My PhD advisor is Jim Childress.

He's been studying hydrothermal vent communities since their discovery in the late 1970s.

And he has years of experience going to sea and doing science in these extreme environments.

So the Childress lab is one of the only labs in the world that's able to keep these animals and maintain them in an environment similar to what they come from.

As fast as we can, we take the animals that were collected and bring them into our lab, where we place them in a maintenance respirometry system.

We call this thing "the condo."

We put the animals in these little condos, we repressurize them up to the pressure that they were collected in, and we make sure that we have them back at the temperature that is optimal for their survival.

Then we pick some of the animals to use for our experiments, and we transfer them into another system that's called the high-pressure respirometry system.

Now, this system is extremely unique and special, because here we can manipulate the environmental conditions, and we look at the metabolic rates of the animals as we vary their environmental condition, and that's what I love to study.

By looking at mussels, you can gain a better understanding about temperature adaptation, and that might help us in the future when it comes to the warming of our planet.

Global warming is real.

It's putting our planet at risk, life as we know it, not just species.

I mean the whole food chain, the whole ecosystem.

And at some point we're gonna have to deal with it.

I think I got into the ocean because it's mysterious to me, it's unknown.

It's not explored, it hasn't been conquered, and I appreciate it, and I have respect for it.

Did you ever think you'd end up here?

Oh, God, no.

But I guess this is the path of questions that I tried to answer, which has led me on a path that ended up here, And so now the question that I'm trying to answer has me taking submarines down to the bottom of the ocean,


OK, let's, uh... Let the meeting come to order, The dive will be Snake Pit, The pilots will be Dr, Anatoly Sagalevitch, MIR One, Genya Chernaiev, MIR Two, We find a structure that we can work the 'bot, So we'll land at the base and we'll just try to work up through the structure, ideally up all the way to a chimney, There is not supposed to be too much hot venting on the wall, some shimmering water, but I don't think the hot vents happen until way at the top, is that correct?

The best way to visualize this stuff is wherever you see something black, that's like a blowtorch, That's, you know, a blowtorch made out of water,

OK, there's MIR One,

They're coming up with us, aren't they?

You're about halfway up the structure right now, so if you just work your way forward along the wall.

Copy that.

There's an antler-shaped stone bowl that's filled with juvenile "Rimicaris."

Roger that, All right, This is, I think, the structure he was describing, and I think I can get in a little closer to it, That's it, You should see 'em now, Over, Got it, Oh, wow, Copy that, We see it,

These little shrimp are different, Are these related?

Yes, Juvenile and adults,

The vent shrimp, "Rimicaris exoculata," are grazing on the bacteria growing all around them.

Are you seeing this crab? I sure am, Look at 'em, They're eating the bacteria that's growing all over that crab, Oh, he almost got that guy, Look at that, He's all covered with this bacteria, He doesn't know it, he just thinks the shrimp are picking on him, It's like crab-fu here at the bottom of the ocean, The shrimp colony, There you go, There it is, Let's check that guy out, OK,

This is black smoke, Look at these guys, I can't believe they're swimming in and out of it, Oops, Aah! It's hot, OK, if it's not cooking them, it's not gonna cook me, So I'm gonna move in a little closer, Being bold,

Now let's get out, Back out, I've got full back command, What the heck? All right, They're attached to us, Let's stay away from that, They're on us, They're attacking us!

Lookit, the shrimp love him, They're all over him, The shrimp are loving Jake, Check that out, Look at that, Oh, wow, Oh, my goodness, I can't even see the fly, I just see shrimp,

Yeah, looks like we've got some piggybackers, some shrimp that are along for the ride, Over, Wow, That's amazing, I can get shrimp at Sizzler, This...

You can't get this shrimp at Sizzler,

"Riftia," the giant tubeworms, are hands down the stars of the deep vent community, and also the best example of symbiosis in action.

I've got a little bit of shimmering water here, We should be OK, Wow, Oh, this is gorgeous, These animals don't even have a stomach.

They literally can't eat.

They depend completely on a large sac of microbes inside their body, which produces their food.

When you get in really close, you can see some pretty neat stuff, Oh, wow,

You see that guy? Can we grab him?

If you want to, You get ready, I think we're set, On your mark...

Oh, he might come to us, Go, Oh!

Crab got away, Tell 'em nice try, Nice try, nice try,

They're gorgeous underwater, The long red plume is like a gill.

It takes in oxygen, and also nutrients from the vent fluid.

The worm's job is to keep this plume in the flow, sucking in nutrients which feed the bacteria inside.

And it's the bacteria's job to convert the sulfide chemicals into food for the worm.

So the question is, do the bacteria work for the worm, or does the worm work for the bacteria?

If these animals didn't exist, we could not have imagined them.

It makes me wonder what else is out there, waiting to be discovered.

You've got a cool job, Genya, Thank you,

So the real question is, could you imagine a colony of these on Europa?

Where would the oxygen be coming from, you know?

If the whole idea is they don't need sunlight to drive this ecosystem, it's just chemosynthesis, but they need some ambient oxygen, The oxygen in the water came from... Photosynthesis, Photosynthesis a million years ago, maybe, It doesn't matter, however long it takes for the water to turn it over, So the question becomes, is oxygen necessary for life?

Ah, yeah, Yeah, OK?

It may be for large animals, OK? But if we get down to the microbial level...

But we want to see large animals, You want to see large animals, We want to see large animals, We don't want to spend all this money to go out into space and find a microbe, Oh, come on, microbes are great, You know, they're highly underrated, But they're not good conversationalists, I mean, look, I would want to give...

Here, look, let me just go forward to one of these cool Riftia patches...

What do you think makes life here possible?

These guys have this incredible symbiosis with microbes, Yeah, they're living on the bacteria, But I'm not gonna give a bouquet of bacteria to my mom, but I would give her a bouquet of these Riftia.

Look at these things, They're beautiful, So what Jim says is right.

O xygen is the afterburner that fuelled the explosion of multicellular life on our world.

And even though chemosynthesis happens beyond the light of our sun, many of the biological processes still require some free oxygen, and this oxygen is typically supplied from photosynthesis at the surface of the Earth.

So where might oxygen come from on Europa?

Europa's orbit sits within Jupiter's enormous magnetic field.

The intense radiation continually slams energetic particles into the Europan surface, and has the potential to transform vast amounts of water ice into things like hydrogen peroxide and molecular oxygen.

Assuming those oxidants make their way into the ocean on a regular basis, through cracks and upwellings or comet impacts, they would represent an energy jackpot for any life forms trying to survive there.

And so this is where some of the hydrothermal samples come into play again.

We're trying to replicate the Europan surface environment in the lab.

Now, these, these are rocks from the deep ocean, So let's prep this for the chamber, Maybe take a little piece off of here, OK, sure, So this is Europa in a can, This part down here is a vacuum chamber, We've got liquid nitrogen coming in, and we can grow ices and basically replicate the surface environment of Europa, Then, up here, we've got a high-energy electron gun, and what this does is replicate the radiation environment of the Jovian magnetic field, this tremendously large and powerful magnetic field of Jupiter, What would happen to life exposed to that environment?

We're taking microbes that we found down at the hydrothermal vents, putting them into this environment, and bombarding them, blasting them, with this high-energy radiation, making sort of a chemical junkyard, a biological chemical compound junkyard, And this is sort of comparable to, say, going to a junkyard here on Earth, and you wander around the junkyard and you see a steering wheel and a tire, and you know that at one point there was a complete car, When we send a spacecraft to Europa, we're going to have to understand what are the chemical and molecular biosignatures that are left behind?

Are we seeing that same kind of signature on the surface of Europa?

If we do, what does that imply for the habitability of the ocean below?

Menez Gwen's an underwater volcano.

It's this really unique place because you have your hydrothermal vents there, and shimmering water everywhere.

Are we digging this place? We're digging this place big time, Big time,

Really see the clear fluids, So these are a little bit cooler, 'cause you're not getting the black smoke here, This site has an amazing dreamlike quality.

The cooler, clear vent fluid isn't as toxic as the black smokers.

So you wind up getting a lot of visitors.

Including some opportunistic predators.

Oh, look at all that shimmering water coming out of that structure, If we can collect a sample down there, that would be fantastic, MIR One, MIR One, MIR Two, This is MIR One. Go ahead.

OK, Jim, we're ready now to launch Jake, Ready to go now,

Here we go, Coming out, Everything working OK? Yeah, it seems OK, So getting to work with Mike and Jake is just absolutely fantastic, because you can think about this thing as the distant ancestor of a vehicle that may someday explore oceans on other worlds.

OK, Mike, looking good, You should be able to take your core sample right at the base of that chimney, Over,

Looks pretty hot though, Kevin, It's just like a burning tree stump, That is just incredible, OK, it looks like most of the fluid is coming out here and here, Can we go in right there?

I will do the best I can, but I'm working really hard, We're in some kind of convective flow here,

We're in there now, You wanted close, we're close, Be careful, Looks like he's hit a blowtorch, doesn't it?

Think he's getting hit, Mike, back up, back up, You got the top of the 'bot is right in the vent fluid, Over, Can you see if I'm in the hot water?

You really want to know?

Nice, Mike, Just be the 'bot, Mike, Be the 'bot, Stay calm, you got it, Yeah, I'm gonna just do this as quick as I can,

Oh, yes! I think we got it, I think we got it, Hey, we gotta just go cap this sample, We just poked it right into the chimney, Yeah, copy that, Congratulations, Go back and cap it, Roger that, Coming home, Yeah, Look at...

Jake took some hits, Other than the damage here and here, it looks in pretty good shape, Yeah, that was pretty fun, Pretty intense, Diving with Mike was great fun. He is a mastermind with the robot.

I didn't realize how much went into making that 'bot work right.

All right, it needs to come up, A little more, Pete, The 'bot had to be small so that it could fit on the MIR.

It had to have its own onboard power supply.

...back to neutral and we're ready to go, Inside the sub, I have a laptop and a joystick, and that's all I have inside the sub.

The fiber is unique.

It allows us to send a light pulse back and forth to the vehicle.

That's how we talk to the vehicle.

And we can control the little camera as well.

The 'bot creates a telepresence for us.

It actually allows us to feel like we're outside of the submarine.

All right, I'm gonna get a little bit closer, Oh, he's beautiful, I never saw anything like this, Look at that, Uh-oh, he sees us now, Hey, hey, hey!

He's going after you!

Look, look, look, he's grabbed the gripper, He's putting his tentacles on the gripper, This is cool, Who's grabbing who? That was incredible, It deliberately reached straight out and probed the gripper, I've never had an encounter like that with the ROV, with an animal that came right up to us and touched the ROV like that, It was an extraordinary encounter.

It was as though I got to shake hands with an alien.

As an underwater explorer, that was probably one of the highlights of my whole experience underwater.

It's not hard to imagine that someday it would be possible to explore oceans on another world.

So getting an idea of what it's like to explore these extreme environments on our own planet could very well pave the way to exploring Europa.

A mission to explore under the ice of Europa would be the ultimate robotic challenge.

During the landing, the team in mission control would pretty much be along for the ride.

Europa is so far away, that even at the speed of light it would take more than an hour for a command just to reach the vehicle.

It's really on its own.

It has to be smart enough to avoid terrain hazards, and to find a good landing site on the ice.

Now we have to get through the ice.

You need a melt probe. It's basically a nuclear-heated torpedo.

The ice could be anywhere from three to sixteen miles deep.

Week after week, the melt probe will sink of its own weight through the ancient ice.

Until finally...

Now, what are you gonna do when you reach the surface of that ocean?

You need an AUV, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.

It needs to be one smart puppy, able to navigate and make decisions on its own in an alien ocean.


Europa has internal heat. It may well have hydrothermal venting.

If it does, and if the chemistry is right...

It will have an enormous impact on humanity if we find life in an ocean on another world.

But in order to find it, we have to go there.

And to go there, we have to continue the journey here.

Exploration is like a muscle. You have to exercise it to make it stronger.

And if water is the common ingredient for life, we need to take what we know about deep ocean exploration and apply it to space, giving scientists and explorers the experience they'll need to follow the water, wherever it might be.

Discovering life at the vents shows us that nature has more to teach us than we can possibly imagine.

But I wonder, what would it be like if we were exploring the ocean on another world?

All stop, Stopping, Hold it steady here, It might completely change our definition of life.

Let's see what they do,


Right on, Houston, "Endurance." We have arrived on station at the coordinates, and we have some new friends.


Who knows what's out there?

So we have to go.