After resurfacing to fix a minor mechanical problem, Jason II is back on the seafloor and hard at work. The plan is for the dive to continue for the next couple of days, weather and technology permitting. When not on watch in the Jason control van, the science team is keeping busy with samples that Jason is sending up by elevator.
Elevators are platforms equipped with weights to make them sink and plastic exterior/glass interior floats to make them rise to the surface again later. The science team fills an elevator platform (shown above) with any equipment or sample containers not already on Jason, straps everything down, and drops it overboard.
Here’s an elevator about to be sent down to the seafloor. The platform is covered with sampling devices and containers. The yellow globes on top are the floats.
Jason locates the elevator on the seafloor and collects the contents with its robotic arms. The emptied elevator is then refilled with any samples that Jason has collected so far. Jason removes the weights from the elevator and the floats carry it back to the surface, where the ship collects it.
The science team grabs the samples, reloads the elevator with fresh weights and supplies, and sends it back down.
A bird’s-eye view of an elevator on deck, with Sentry secured nearby:
These cyclical elevator operations maximize our sampling efficiency: the supplies from the elevator let Jason do more and stay down for longer, and we don’t have to wait for Jason to resurface before starting to process samples. It also increases versatility, because if the initial samples indicate that a different approach is needed, the plan can be adjusted mid-dive.
Tune in later for more details on what we’re doing with all these samples.
–Cat Wolner, NSF
Photo credits: Cat Wolner