Pictured: ROV control console
Best known for the discovery of RMS Titanic, Ballard has led more than 120 oceanographic expeditions. He located the wrecks of the battleship Bismarck, the aircraft carrier Yorktown, John F. Kennedy’s PT-109, the nuclear attack submarines USS Scorpion and USS Thresher, and numerous ancient ships in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. He also discovered and documented the extraordinary marine communities surrounding deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
Pictured: The ROV Hercules
Repeatedly, Ballard has extended the limits of technology to probe the ocean’s secrets, developing a suite of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to gather images of nearly inaccessible shipwrecks and other marine environments. He shares his passion for scientific exploration with school kids and families via the JASON Project, the Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, and Immersion Learning.
His lifelong dream of connecting a worldwide network of experts and the public to research ships at sea and underwater ROVs came a step closer to fruition this year, with the dedication of the new Inner Space Center at the University of Rhode Island and two new ships devoted to full-time exploration, NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer and Ballard’s own first research ship, the Nautilus.
Watch 60 Minutes in the U.S. Sunday at 7 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, and learn about the Ocean’s New Mission Control Center and Ballard’s High-Tech Look on Ocean Worlds here on BlogWild. For more updates on National Geographic marine exploration, visit Ocean Now.
Photographs by Ford Cochran