Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 2 - Preparation

Today we wake to a calm ocean, blue sky and for the first time since leaving Southampton not a glimpse of land!

Around 70 miles south west of the Isles of Scilly only ocean can be seen
Our first stop, Goban Spur, should be reached by early Saturday morning, this is where Charlotte Main is looking forward to gathering her sediment core samples allowing her to begin her crude oil impact experiments.

From there we continue to Porcupine Abyssal Plain and so the ship’s scientific teams have been busy over the past couple of days preparing our sampling equipment for our arrival.

We have the Autosub team, consisting of Stephen McPhail, Maaten Furlong, Miles Pebody and Dave Paxton.

Maaten Furlong and Dave Paxton working on Autosub6000
They have been working long shifts to finalise the Autosub for its first mission in a few days. The Autosub has had years of technical work put into it, but the 2 -3 days prior to its launch are critical for its success.

Diving to 4,850 metres is no mean feat and everything has to be perfect. Once deployed Autosub will capture two photos per second over an 18 hour mission, generating over 100,000 photos (around 1 terabyte of data), no one wants to find out that the flash ended up not working! So the team have been writing computer code for running diagnostic tests to make sure everything is fine.

Brian Bett explaining the principles behind the megacorer.
The cores bury into the seabed by being slowly pushed down
by the force of a 400kg lead weight!
Preparation has also been taking place with the box corer and mega corer. Today all the scientists have been given demonstrations on how these samplers operate, so that when operations begin, all goes smoothly.  With the number of samples generated by these two units, most of the scientists on board will be helping to process the data, working around the clock.

The next few weeks are going to be hard work, but immensely enjoyable. We are all looking forward to tomorrow where we shall gather our first set of scientific data.

John Benning