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Let the science begin…

November 11, 2010

Last night the science crew had their first meeting with the chief scientists, Dr. Steve Ross and Dr. Sandra Brooke. They provided a quick overview of job responsibilities for each group and an outline of what to expect over the next two weeks.

Bridge of the Ron BrownAfter breakfast, Peyton, Art and I had a brief tour of the bridge of NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown. Brett Lewis and Ensign Bryan Begun were on duty and explained the controls of this impressive vessel. Details on the history and specifications of the Ron Brown can be found at I talked to Brett about what it is like to live and work on a ship. It certainly is a different lifestyle since you might be on duty at sea several weeks to several months at a time. Last year he was away from his Montana home for seven months. Brett performs several duties on the ship as assigned. This day he is on four hours on the bridge, off eight and then back on four.

Inside the control room - Jason IIThis morning we met with the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) crew for Jason II from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (see This is a truly amazing piece of technology and there is a definite buzz of excitement as we draw close to the first launch. Alberto Collasius gave us an overview of the capabilities of the ROV. This was followed by a quick tour of the control room where many of us will spend 3-6 hour shifts in the coming days, recording data collected by the scientists in charge as they direct the workings of the ROV several hundred meters below our ship.  The amount of information to be collected on each dive looks impressive and protocols will need to be followed to accurately catalog all of the information. Steve Ross reminded us last night that we may be seeing things that no one has seen before, so we should be mindful of the importance of the data collected. I think he also wants us all to appreciate the special character of this type of research and the opportunities this mission provides.

The first order of business is to do a navigation check – a transponder is lowered and then the ship does a series of transects to calibrate the accuracy of the tracking system so that the scientists can more accurately locate the position of the ROV during the upcoming dives. In good conditions, it is possible to pinpoint the position of the ROV to within a few meters even when at depths of 300+ meters.

Dr. Ross just announced that the ROV dive would now be going down some time between 6 and 7 pm, which will mean bringing samples to the ship around 1 a.m. It may be a long night as we process the first samples of the cruise.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elizabeth Byrd permalink
    November 11, 2010 3:37 am

    Thank you, Mike, for keeping us informed and helping us be a part of this wonderful journey.

  2. October 22, 2011 3:39 am

    Tremendous piece of writing.

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