Lone Ranger, Sediment traps, Deep-sea observatory, Kite Assist System
The Lone Ranger, a 255-foot ship donated to the Schmidt Ocean Institute by Mr. Peter Lewis, is dedicated as a platform for increasing knowledge and understanding of the world’s ocean through scientific and engineering research. Originally an ocean tug, the Lone Ranger was redesigned into a yacht then transformed into a research vessel for scientific investigation at Mr. Lewis’ request.
Sediment traps are large funnels that collect particles of debris that rain down from sunlit surface waters. This rain of debris is the primary source of food for deep-sea communities. By measuring how much debris sinks into the traps, researchers can figure out how the food supply for deep-sea animals changes over time.
At the most southerly study site, about 500 miles west of Bermuda, the research team will set up a long-term observing system 5,400 meters down on the abyssal seafloor. The new observatory, commissioned by the Marine Science and Technology Foundation, consists of a time-lapse camera system connected to a string of “sediment traps”. The time-lapse camera will snap pictures of a four-by-five-meter patch of ocean floor every hour for up to six months. Smith will retrieve the data from the observatory on a separate cruise scheduled for August.
Kite Assist System
The Kite Assist System consists of a winch, flying line, launching mast, kite, line climber, cameras, and anemometer. Kites can be flown from 50 to 600 meters (160 - 2000 feet) altitude with a line angle of 45 degrees. Researchers can choose from an array of kites ranging from two to seven meters (six to 20 feet) across depending upon weather conditions, sea state, and wind speed. The Kite Assist System requires 10 minutes to launch, and three minutes to retrieve each kite system. Multiple camera systems and sensors can be deployed simultaneously in collaboration with Sargassum sampling and satellite imaging.