Yellowstone is one of the most popular destinations in America, but there’s one part of the national park that few people have ever seen. Deep beneath the surface of Yellowstone Lake, an entire world is hiding and potentially harboring new scientific discoveries. Now, one organization wants to send a robot to the bottom of the lake to explore. It needs your help to do it.
The project is being led by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE), which wants to build a $200,000 robot called Yogi to help the National Park Service explore the bottom of Yellowstone Lake. The group hopes to raise $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign that expires on May 4. The other half will come from a private donor who’s promised to match all crowd-funding donations.
Yogi is a 600-pound robot capable of navigating via acoustics. It can also measure the temperature, analyze liquids and film using multiple cameras. The design calls for a $30,000 HD camera, a $40,000 robotic arm and $25,000 worth of high-tech sensors, along with plenty of other technology. Extra cameras and sensors could also be added to Yogi later on.
Once Yogi reaches the bottom of Yellowstone Lake, it will gather data on the unique species that live there and survive off heat released from the earth through thermal vents. Scientists believe the extreme conditions these creatures endure could help unlock new ways to treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Some NASA scientists also think these species could be the key to discovering the origins of life on earth.
It may sound far-fetched, but it wouldn’t be the first time a discovery at Yellowstone led to a scientific breakthrough. A microbial species discovered at the park in the 1970s actually helped scientists decode DNA. There’s also plenty left to discover, with only one percent of Yellowstone’s microbes identified so far.
You can support the project for as little as $5, for which you’ll receive thank you email. More exciting rewards include a digital map of Yellowstone Lake for $75, a special t-shirt for $220, a signed picture of the robot at the bottom of the lake for $500, and a chance to see the robot for yourself at Yellowstone National Park for $3,000. Donations are also tax deductible since GFOE is a non-profit organization.