ALTEX Arctic Cruise
October 7 - November 7, 2001
Tromso, Norway to the Arctic Circle
October 18, 2001: Day #12
Parked on the ice edge Temp -11.6 degrees C (11 degrees F), 5-knot wind, balmy (compared to yesterday), calm seas.
Mike Pinto writes: Parked on the ice edge Temp -11.6 degrees C (11 degrees F), 5-knot wind, balmy (compared to yesterday), calm seas.
Night operations! The Healy spent the day traveling south, southwest towards the ice edge. The next set of goals were a controls test of the long AUV (containing the ice buoy launch section) in open water, a launch of a "dummy" ice buoy in open water to test the buoy ejection system and a launch of a live ice buoy under first year ice. If all goes as planned, the live buoy should deploy from the AUV, rise to the surface, burn through the ice, deploy a small balloon with a satellite antenna and transmit stored data from the AUV.
Conditions were favorable when the AUV was launched directly from the Healy without the use of the RHIB boat. The first run, as usual, would be a short mission to test controllability of the longer vehicle. The strobe light made spotting the vehicle very easy under the ideal conditions in which we were operating. Unfortunately, several attempts to dive the vehicle were not successful. The vehicle would travel along the surface at speed but refused to dive. There was continued concern for the vehicle hitting surface ice during these long runs. DJ Osborne and Drew Gashler, along with two Coast Guard crew, were sent in the small boat to attempt to coax the AUV into a diving behavior by gently pushing the nose down as the AUV's prop began spinning. After another attempt in which the vehicle failed to dive, the data communications link failed. The mission was scrubbed and the vehicle was towed back to the ship.
Aboard ship, much discussion involved ballast and weight distribution on the AUV to improve diving performance while Mark Sibenac analyzed the intermittent data communication problem. It looked like another late night in the science lab.