Press Releases

December 18, 2007
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology

The Automatic Bottom Inspection and Sampling Mobile "ABISMO"
Succeeds to dive to a depth of 9,707m at the actual test diving


The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC; Mr. Yasuhiro Kato, President) has been developing the Automatic Bottom Inspection and Sampling Mobile “ABISMO”. Test dive was carried out successfully to a depth of 9,707m in the deepest area of Izu-Ogasawara trench which water depth is 9,760m. Ever since JAMSTEC developed the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) “KAIKO” (*1: lost its vehicle in May, 2003, reached to a water depth of 10,900m in July, 1999), a 10,000m class unmanned research vehicle developed in Japan is only "ABISMO".

2.About "ABISMO"

In order to understand biosphere in the world deepest sea area where discovery of useful life form is expected, and to understand crustal movement under the deepest seafloor which was difficult before, JAMSTEC is developing and improving research submersible, the Automatic Bottom Inspection and Sampling Mobile "ABISMO" (Pic.1~3, refer to Appendix for specifications), which is capable to conduct survey and observation under the great water depth of 11,000m. Until now, number of tests had been conducted for “ABISMO” on land and in shallow sea area.
Same as "KAIKO", "ABISMO"consists of a launcher and a vehicle. The launcher and the vehicle are newly developed and constructed, and the winch systems and the primary cable are inherited from existing "KAIKO".
Launcher holds the vehicle and the bottom sampler during descent and surfacing, and releases the vehicle near the seafloor to conduct research. The launcher also performs as a relay station connecting devices onboard "KAIREI" and the vehicle. The vehicle is connected to the launcher with a secondary cable of 160m long. Research by TV camera is anticipated in the near future within the reachable range of the cable.
“KAIKO” collects samples of bottom surface, on the other hand, "ABISMO" is capable to collect about 1m-long core samples of bottom sediment in the great depth of water, therefore, it is expected that “ABISMO” may discover new microbe under the extreme environment.


To confirm ability of "ABISMO" test dive has been conducted from December 4 to December 10, 2007at Izu-Ogasawara trench (Fig.1: North Longitude 29°09, East Latitude 142°49) which water depth is about 9,760m. Test categories are dive test, launch and retrieval test, and sea-bottom sampling test.

It recorded 9,707m on December 9, 2007 at Izu-Ogasawara trench which deepest water depth is about 9,760m. The vehicle was not separated from the launcher in this test.
The ROV which is capable to dive to a world greatest depth (11,000m) is under development at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. However, the result of the verification test is unknown.
The core sampler*2 on “ABISMO” succeeded to collect sediment samples from deep sea-bottom (9,760m).

4.Future prospective

“ABISMO” will be improved continuingly; test dive is planning the next year (2008) at Challenger Deep (11,000m water depth) in Mariana Trench which is the deepest area in the world.
As part of JAMSTEC’s research and development activities of the “Next Generation Deep-sea Exploration Technology” of the Key Technology for National Importance, “ABISMO” will be used for actual sea tests to evaluate elemental technology of ROV to conduct delicate or heavy work such as installation of observational devices in the great depth of water.

*1 Remotely Operated Vehicle “KAIKO”

10,000m class ROV “KAIKO” dived up to a depth of 10,911.4m at Challenger Deep in Marina Trench in March, 1995. Following February, 1996, it succeeded to collect the world’s first samples of sea-bottom sediment containing deep-microbe from more than 10,000m depth of water at the Mariana Trench (10,898m deep). But “KAIKO” lost its Vehicle when the secondary cable ruptured at off the coast of Shikoku in May, 2003. Now as an alternative, remodeled thin optical fiber ROV “UROV7K” was combined with Launcher of “KAIKO” and went through a number of functional advancement, operated as “KAIKO 7000 II”. “KAIKO 7000 II” is capable to dive to a 7,000m water depth and conduct research; it boasts the world top-class diving depth.

*2 Core Sampler:

The instrument to collect sediment samples composed of mud and sand by descending and penetrating metal pipe into the seafloor. Core Sampler of 1m long was used this time.

Fig.1. Research Area

Fig.2. System configuration diagram of “ABISMO”

Pic.1. Appearance of “ABISMO”

Pic.2. “ABISMO” retrieved by “KAIREI”

Pic.3. Collected sample from 9,760m deep seafloor at Izu-Ogasawara trench


Specification of “ABISMO”


Type: Open framework structure
Dimension (approximately): Length 1.3m × Breadth: 0.9m × Height: 1.1m
Weight (approximately): 300kg in the air, 100kg in the water
Propulsion equipment: Thrusters (Longitudinal direction: 400W×4 sets, Transverse direction: 400W×2 sets), Crawler (Longitudinal direction 400W×2sets)
Imaging device: NTSC type color TV×1ch


Type: Open framework structure
Dimension (approximately): Length 2.7m × Breadth: 2.2m × Height: 2.8m
Weight (approximately): 2,000kg in the water
Propulsion equipment: Thrusters (Longitudinal direction 1kW×2 sets)
Work device: Gravity Core Sampler×1set
Imaging device: NTSC type color TV×2ch, HDTV type color TV×1ch in the future


(For “ABISMO”)
Osawa Hiroyuki
Sub Leader, Advanced deep-sea robot R&D Group
Advanced Marine Technology Research Program
Marine Technology Center (MARITEC)
(For Publication)
Shinji Oshima, e-mail:
Manager, Planning Department Press Office
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology