December 31, 2006
We are currently heading towards site 5, east of New Zealand south of the Easter Islands. Basically when we get there we spend 8-10 hours scanning the bottom to determine the best site to probe. When it is selected we send down 4 different devices one at a time. Two collect sediment samples, one lands and collects water and near sediment surface samples, and a third collects water samples down the full trip. All are then divided out to chemistry, biology, and geology labs on board the ship for processing. The lab I work in separates out the water from the sediment by squeezing it in a hydraulic press. The water is then checked for chlorine, nitrates, sulfates, methane, and oxygen. It is then preserved for later land based analysis. I learned yesterday that one of the funding agencies of this program is NASA. The methods we use to explore the deep ocean sediment (where life is believed to be marginal) are the same methods that will probably be used to explore the water on moon Europa or the trapped water on Mars. The weather now is good, seas pretty calm. I'm taking miles of video and so far probably a 100 photos. Bringing lots back to school when I return.