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HADEX Program and Exploring Ocean Worlds

The Hadal Exploration Program (HADEX), aimed at determining the composition and distribution of hadal species, the role of pressure, food supply, physiology, depth, and topography on deep-ocean communities and evolution of life. In addition, a primary goal of the HADEX Program is to develop an armada of new full-ocean depth autonomous underwater vehicles that will not only revolutionize access to the currently inaccessible environments on Earth, but will:

  1. expose the existence, constraints, and limits of life and its evolution on earth;
  2. enable comparative investigations of hadal and abyssal life forms throughout the global network of hadal environments on Earth; and
  3. serve as the key platform and delivery vehicle for developing and testing key sensors for the detection of habitability and bio-signatures of life (and encouraging partnerships between NASA and oceanograghers). Our program has ushered a new partnership between the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to advance the exploration and detection of life in oceans known to exist in our solar system, already bringing together leaders in ocean and space exploration to harness convergent technologies and methodologies that will benefit deep-ocean exploration. The development of advanced robotic technology will allow the pursuit of foremost questions in hadal research as well as all parts of the ocean, from the ice-covered poles to the (analogs that are) deepest trenches.