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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor David Mindell participated in the search and survey team of the Midway Expedition that discovered the USS Yorktown more than three miles deep in the Pacific Ocean last month.
Mindell and the scientific team used video and sonar technology to take sound "pictures" of the ocean floor, and locate the ship that sunk during the Battle of Midway some 56 years ago. The National Geographic expedition was run by Robert Ballard.
"We searched in a 10 by 20 mile box on the bottom of the ocean floor," said Mindell, an electrical engineer and historian of science and technology who was on the Mediterranean Sea expedition last August that yielded amphorae and other artifacts from ancient Rome and Carthage.
"You sort of mow the lawn over the site with a sonar sled -- going back and forth, which we did for days and days and days," he said about the Yorktown search. "The sonar gathers data that you have to interpret and use to make a digital map of the ocean floor. Then we had to determine which blips were rocks and hills and which one might be the aircraft carrier. The ship turned out to be the blip we thought it was."
The expedition used the US Naval deep submergence support ship, the Laney Chouest, and two underwater vehicles -- a bottom-surveying robot that can see 100 feet and a sled-like search vehicle from the University of Hawaii -- to locate the aircraft carrier that was sunk during the Battle of Midway. A press conference on the expedition was held on Thursday, June 4 at the National Geographic Society.