Monday, January 9, 2012

On Site and On Target

We reached our destination last night (January 8) at 9:45 p.m. Since we are in the deep ocean, anchors can't reach the sea floor, so the ship relies on thrusters—one in the bow plus the stern propellers, which can rotate through 360 degrees—to remain relatively stationary. These maintain our position to within a close distance of our target over the seafloor at all times.
Chip Breier working late.
 Right now we are floating above the Mid-Cayman Rise (see Where Is Atlantis?, upper right on this page) and everyone began testing their equipment last night.  

A CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth gauge) was lowered to a depth of 2000 meters last  night, along with other collection instruments that were being tested for the first time. The team members who were working on these new instruments were up well into the night, and finally got some rest at 8:00 this morning!  

Today our ROV Jason was to dive at noon, but due to technical difficulties the dive was pushed back a few hours. Around 4:30 p.m., Jason reached the sea floor and everything is going smoothly. So far, the vehicle has sent back images of some interesting, highly weathered rock outcrops, a few fish and shrimp, and even some shells of muscles and tubeworms. As of this writing, Jason has collected one sample of the rocks and is on the move after calibrating its cameras.  

I will send an update when Jason reaches its first vent site target.  

Stay tuned!  

The view from the ROV van
Fun Jason facts:  
* Jason has nine cameras, including two high-definition video cameras.  
* It weights between 8,000 and 9,300 pounds and is the size of a Mini Cooper.  
* Jason is tethered to a second vehicle, Medea, which hangs 47 meters above it. This allows tension on the cable from the surface to be placed on Medea so Jason can maneuver on its tether more easily and unaffected by motion of the ship.  
* Both vehicles descend at a rate of 30 meters per minute.  
* It takes 6 people to operate Jason. They work in a control station called the "ROV van," a converted cargo container that can be moved from ship to ship as needed  
* The team controls Jason from the ROV van, making adjustments according to data and video displayed on several monitors.  
* The pilot controls Jason's arms through a joystick replica of the vehicle's actual arms.  
* There are two rules when in the ROV van: Do not bring anything in to eat that requires a plate (there's very little space), or anything that smells bad (it's a small, enclosed room). 

Read more about Jason and Medea in the link at the top of the page.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that is supposed to be 30 meters per minute. Though it would be an exciting trip to the bottom at ~67mph!