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Journals 2007/2008

Kathy Couchon
Narragansett High School, Narragansett, RI

"AUV Engineering Trial in Fram Strait in Support of the Gakkel Ridge Expedition"
Icebreaker ODEN
May 27 - June 7, 2007
Journal Index:
May 27 - 28 - 29 - 30 - 31
June 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

Additional Resources

May 29, 2007
First Full Day at Sea

Latitude/Longitude: 74°16' N, 19° 44.7' E
Temperature: 2°C

This was the first full day at sea on Oden and it began very early for me. I was up at 6 am to meet with the AUV team to review the preparations for deployment when we arrive at the test site. The vehicles are stored on the aft deck and there are still many tasks to perform before they can be sent into the water.

For the cruise I have been assigned to work on the AUV team, testing the new autonomous vehicles, PUMA and JAGUAR. These vehicles, developed at WHOI, are equipped with an array of equipment including:

  • CTD - to study conductivity, temperature and depth (from these measurements, salinity and water density can be determined)
  • Magnetometer - to study the magnetic orientation of the seafloor
  • Cameras - to take still digital images
  • Multibeam echosounder - to produce profiles of the seafloor
  • Mass spectrometer - to measure trace chemicals in the seawater
  • EH Sensor - to measure the oxidation-reduction potential of the seawater
  • Long Range Optical Backscatter - to determine the turbidity, or amount of matter distributed in the water
Although identical in design, the two vehicles differ in the combination of equipment each will carry.

Today's test, however, was not for AUVs, but the wireline system, CAMPER, instead. CAMPER is a sled system designed to function as a camera/sampling instrument. It will survey the water column, taking both digital still and video pictures and is capable of sampling both biological organisms and sediments from the seafloor.

We made our first transit stop off the Norwegian island of Bjørnøya, "Bear Island," to deploy CAMPER and test its systems. When not in use, CAMPER is stored under a tent on the afterdeck. Deploying this sled system is a time-intensive challenge as the tent must first be lifted off and set aside on the deck, and then CAMPER must be lifted by ship's crane to the aft deck where it is then attached to an A-frame winch and carefully lowered into the water. It seemed that everyone not involved in the deployment was on the upper decks filming the operation.

Once this lengthy procedure ended, we were back on course, transiting to Test Site 1, within the ice pack. It is expected that we will meet the ice edge sometime late Wednesday. Though this is my second excursion into the Arctic ice pack, I am still excited to revisit this surreal environment. Will it be as exciting as I remember it being the first time? With that question in mind, I decide to catch some shut-eye until "ice time day".

Our first test stop was off of the Norwegian isle, Bjørnøya (Bear Island).
Scientists prepare to launch the camera/sampler instrument, CAMPER.