Posted by: adorsk | January 29, 2008

A Change of Seasons

I’m back in the Northern Hemisphere. In just one day I went from Summer to Winter! Science has gone ashore and now the ship is steaming to Charleston, South Carolina.

The Ascencion of Science

This cruise proved that AUVs can find and survey hydrothermal vents. On the final dives, the robots even got hi-resolution pictures of the seafloor near the vents.

C & S in the science party told me about some of the virtues of AUVs. In contrast to robots that have are attached to a ship with a cable (robot-on-string), AUVs are far more portable and less expensive. In addition, they can go places where ships can’t go, like under ice. (Last summer this science party was in the Arctic). AUVs will probably be more and more active oceanography in the future. Exciting stuff ahead.

Here’s Jaguar going into the water.

Jaguar Deployment

But we are done with robots for now. We dropped science off at Ascension island on the 17th. We came upon the island in morning while it still lay hidden in clouds. The sun rose, the clouds melted, and a peaked volcanic island appeared before our eyes.
Lo, the island:

Ascension Island

The Ascension navy takes science ashore:

Science Goes Ashore

The island seemed quite nice, even though I didn’t get to go ashore. Tropical fish swarmed all around the ship while the science party went ashore on a small boat. It was fascinating to watch the clouds swirl and morph above the island. Sometimes there would be piercing shafts of sunlight that cut down through the clouds onto the shrubbery below.

I left a Pollywog, I shall return a Shellback

During the transit we crossed the equator.  It turns out that the equatorial regions fall under the jurisdiction of King Neptune. He gets bored, so every time a pollywog (someone who hasn’t crossed the equator) goes through, he likes to have some fun with them. Shortly after we crossed the equator a motley crew of shellbacks (those who have crossed the equator) rounded up us pollywogs for *the ceremony*. I can’t say much about it for fear of angering King Neptune. (You’ve read the Odyssey, right? Don’t mess with Neptune). All I can show you is this:

Shellback Ceremony

That’s me in the middle.

But in the end I did get my shellback card. Check it out:

Shellback Card

Now I just have to remember to keep it with me whenever I cross the equator. If I forget it, I’ll have to go through the ceremony again. King Neptune’s customs officials are tougher than U.S. immigration.

To Charleston

The ship will pull in to Charleston on Sunday, February 3rd. I am very confident that we will be there on time because the crew is eager to see the superbowl that night.

I’ve been busy wrapping up the science gear for the shipyard, and doing some programming. Time just flies by on the transit! But it’s been a nice trip with excellent weather.  It’s only just starting to turn chilly now as the ship leaves the warm boundary currents.

Thanks for reading. Check back in a couple weeks to find out how the shipyard goes.

Miscellaneous Pictures

C & M from the science party tuning the transducers…C is holding a tiny xylophone that plays at certain frequencies.  When he hits the right frequency, the transducer at his feet should make a loud noise.

Transducer Jam

This is what science looks like…maps & plans

Maps & Plans

Ducks, take note.

For Duck Work Only

The cloud elephant

Cloud Elephant

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