TIME Science

The Exosuit Lets Researchers Stay Submerged for Hours

Wear it to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance

Though it may not seem like it, the bottom of the sea is about as alien as space; perhaps even more so (within the bit of space we’ve explored, I should say), considering all of the strange creatures that dwell fathoms beneath the surface. Below certain depths, we can only speculate what’s deeper down—it’s that unknowableness that makes the seas and skies such fertile homes for our imagination.

Archaeologists have plumbed the depths nearly as much as marine biologists, and have run into many of the same problems; particularly that of staying beneath the waves long enough to properly get their hands on a historical artifact. Enter the Exosuit: Shiny and vaguely human-shaped with clamping grips for hands, it looks like gear from a future manned mission to space.

Even so, it solves the problem nicely—wearing the suit, researchers can stay beneath the surface almost indefinitely.

“With the Exosuit, our bottom time becomes virtually unlimited,” Brendan Foley, co-director of field operations at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Deep Submergence Laboratory (and the first lab to test the suit), told New Scientist. “Now we can have an archaeologist in the suit for hours, and we’ll only have to come up to answer the call of nature.”

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