Recovering the Benthic Rover

June 17, 2013

The weather models predicted today to be the calmest of our cruise, so today we recovered the Rover. Like the Mars Rover, the deep-sea Rover II is a self-driving tank that stops at planned intervals to run experiments on its environment. The Rover takes pictures of the seafloor and measures the oxygen respiration of bacteria and small animals living in the sediment. Because the weather was calm, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts dove and worked on the seafloor remotely while the engineers downloaded the data and performed maintenance on the Rover.

Rover image of the respirometry chamber during its most recent deployment. Sensors measure oxygen concentration in the chamber every 15 minutes.

Rover image of the respirometry chamber during its most recent deployment. Sensors measure oxygen concentration in the chamber every 15 minutes.

As with any ship work, it’s essential to make the most of the available working space. After the Doc Ricketts came up, we had to process the cores of deep-sea sediment collected by the ROV on the seawater tables, but also make sure there was plenty of clean, dry space for working on the Rover. Before starting processing cores and running water over big chunks of mud in the sieves, we put up a plastic divider between the benches so no mud could splash over to the electronics.

Making the most of the working space on the Western Flyer. The left side has sieves, spray bottles and buckets ready for processing gallons of splatter-prone deep-sea mud. On the right, Alana Sherman and Paul McGill check the electronics that run the Rover.

Making the most of the working space on the Western Flyer. The left side has sieves, spray bottles and buckets ready for processing gallons of splatter-prone deep-sea mud. On the right, Alana Sherman and Paul McGill check the electronics that run the Rover.

—Crissy Huffard