Photograph of underwater test tank

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University


What lies beneath

A beige carpet, weighted with lead bricks and fiberglass rocks, blankets the floor of Louis Whitcomb's 46,000-gallon hydrodynamics water tank in Homewood's Krieger Hall. In this artificial marine environment, the professor of mechanical engineering and his students develop next-generation underwater robots for oceanographic research. The instruments and vehicles invented here are destined for missions in exotic locales such as under moving sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, the depths of the Marianas Trench, and submerged mountains near Bermuda. Their first splash, just 14 feet of chlorinated water in Baltimore.