Thursday, July 9, 2009

Headed home!

After a very successful month at sea, we have pulled into Samoa and are headed home.  The labs are packed, samples and equipment stowed away.  When we arrived, the Greenpeace ship, Esperanza, was in our dock space, so we had extra excitement as we were anchored in the harbor and ferried back and forth on the pilot boat.  Thanks for following our blog- We've enjoyed sharing our time at sea with you!

Monday, July 6, 2009

From Tin Can to Tested Contraption

One of the major challenges when sampling the deep waters is that all manipulations must be done with an arm which, even at maximum extension, has the grip force to pick up a 250lbs rock.  This ability is very useful when one wants to pick up a 250lbs rock; however, sampling feather-light sulfur beehives becomes somewhat of an ordeal.  Hard handling can result in a cloud of beehive dust.  When Chief Scientist, Anna-Louise Reysenbach, jokingly challenged the Jason team to create a dainty tool able to successfully sample these tricky formations, she thought it couldn’t be done. 

Jason engineer, Dara Scott (pictured above with the FST3000), took on the challenge.  Ingenious Irish inventor that he is, Dara came up with a device that not only sampled beehives without touching them, but was also environmentally friendly.  The FST 3000 recycled an ordinary tin can into a superb beehive sampler.  It cuts the beehive off at its stem and gently cradles the delicate sample until it can be placed in the storage box to be taken to the surface safely.  The powerful grip of the Jason arm is reduced, only being used to force the FST to cut the stem.   

The scientific community is agog, fueled by the buzz of successful test trials on the mysterious FST 3000.  Above, the Jason control van looks on as the FST 3000 gets put into use.  

As the galley wonders where all their soup cans keep disappearing to, marketing plans for the FST 3000 are in full swing:

“Do you want control over your chimney breaks?

Tired of throwing away tin cans?

Then get the FST 3000 with EaZe-Break S22

Now with rubberized ergonomically enhanced performance handles,

to really take control of those pesky vent situations.”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Winding down...

Things have started to wind down for a very busy cruise.  In the past few days, we revisited Tui Malila and Mariner to retrieve the thermocouple arrays and fill in a few gaps in our samples.  At each site we have had to retrieve transponders (devices that enable us to navigate accurately on the seafloor) and have had some difficulty locating these (will elaborate in a later blog!).  Tonight, we’re headed to Tow Cam, the site for our final dive along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center.  We’re excited to realize the cruise is almost over, but also sad.  Sad – because we have made new friends who we’ll have to say good-bye to, but also sad because we don’t know when we’ll be returning to this very interesting deep-sea hydrothermal vent area.

During our last few dives, we spotted some interesting deep-sea animals.  Here are just a few we enjoyed observing ….

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Mess-y Meal

The origin of the word mess, comes from Old French, mes, meaning portion of food.  The mess onboard the Thompson doesn’t just serve a portion of food.  It serves many.  The steward (Sherry), 2nd cook (Sarah) and Mess Assistant (Michael) manage to feed the scientists and the crew high quality, nutrious food three times a day.   And they still have time to make chocolate cake with maple-walnut frosting!

It’s much appreciated to be able to get off from sampling or doing a Jason watch and have several salads, soup, a main course (including very thoughtful vegetarian options), and dessert ready and waiting for you.   There are even sandwiches, cereal and chocolate for those who sleep through a meal, or just want to snack.

So, the entire ship would like to thank Sherry, Sarah, and Michael for making their days that much easier.

Sherry and Sarah fight over a wishbone.  Are they wishing they could make peanut butter cookies forever?
Michael and Sherry are all smiles mopping up the kitchen.
Sarah posing for the camera in front of her grill.