NIKUMARORO, KIRIBATIIt’s a balmy tropical night south of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, but inside the control room of the E/V Nautilus it’s cold and dark and hushed. Banks of monitors provide the only light. Moving around is treacherous—wires hang along the walls and the space between work stations is narrow. Despite the heat outside, crew members wear fleece to fend off the frigid air. Their voices are barely audible as they speak softly to each other through headsets.
The screens mounted on the black-painted walls provide a vision of another world. One shows a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) floating in shadowy blue light, dwarfed by what looks to be a massive cliff face. Another screen provides a closer view—bedrock and