A successful Alvin science verification cruise!

Alvin from behind during retrieval after a successful dive. The sub is hanging in the A-frame of the R/V Atlantis, its home ship.

Alvin from behind during retrieval after a successful dive. The sub is hanging in the A-frame of the R/V Atlantis, its home ship.

As you may have noticed, I wasn't able to post anything here while I was at sea. I couldn't connect my computer to the internet and when I tried to use the ship's computers squarespace (where this blog is hosted) wasn't accessible. My apologies.

Hopefully if you were hoping for updates on the newly renovated Alvin sub you were keeping tabs on the official cruise website. There is lots of great content on that site including a slideshow of what it looks like in the sub, a video showing how the sub gets prepped to dive each morning, a post about how new lighting and cameras are enabling better seafloor footage, and an audio description of what this cruise was about and why it was important. It was great to be out at sea with professional outreach folks. I think the quality and diversity of media on the official cruise site show what that can result in.

My main goal was to organize and facilitate a skype class with a group of about 50 students from Cambridge Ringe and Latin School as part of a new Marine Science Internship Program at Harvard. You can read about how that went and see a couple of pictures here. I was thrilled that the skype communications held up for the whole hour, and even more excited to hear that the students were inspired by what they heard. It was definitely fun to be able to answer student's questions, live, from sea.

On a personal level, I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in this cruise. I wasn't able to dive, but I was able to get inside the sub and see what it's like with two new viewports and lots of extra space - so cool! I was also able to watch very experienced scientists and engineers trouble shoot and tweak minor things on the new sub. I learned a lot from that about both working with Alvin and doing science at sea in general. I learned a lot about the aspects of sub operations that you usually don't think about when you head out for a research cruise with a well tested and polished vehicle. I met lots of great people and reconnected with some old friends from a previous cruise. All in all it was a great week. I'd love to answer any questions in the comments below.

There is so much history associated with this amazing little sub (if you can call anything that weights 40,000 pounds little) I am proud to have been present for the beginning of this new chapter.


Heading to sea again!

This Friday I head out to the Gulf of Mexico to participate in the Science Verification Cruise for the newly renovated Alvin submersible. The famous sub has recently undergone a massive rebuild, and undergone all required safety tests. So, now the scientists get to test out all the new and improved capabilities: manipulator arms with more maneuverability, greater visibility, better cameras, more internal space... just to name a few. The cruise has already started and you can read all about what they are up to here on the official site. I will be taking a large, fast catamaran from Gulf Port, Louisiana out to meet the R/V Atlantis for the second leg of the cruise. My main reason for going is to help my advisor, who is the Chief Scientist for this cruise, with education/outreach efforts. How fun to be able to go out to sea and not have to worry about my own experiments! I plan to post some updates both here and on the official website, so stay tuned!