December 5, 2011 Slideshow

(l-r) Dara Scott, Ben Tradd, and Expedition Leader Tito Collasius share a relaxed moment before recovering Jason and Medea after a dive to a Deep Hypersaline Anoxic Basin.

Jason pilots Akel Kevis-Stirling and Ben Tradd remove one of the remotely operated vehicle’s (ROV’s) rear thrusters for a minor repair after a dive. The team carefully inspects Jason and Medea after every dive and is able to repair or replace almost any part that becomes damaged.

Jason engineer Lisa Borden adjusts one of the ROV’s hydraulic lines at port in Piraeus, Greece.

What the pilot sees: Ben Tradd (front lower left) uses video images from Jason’s many cameras to direct it in its scientific mission. The screen just to his left monitors various systems on the ROV. The control room, or van, is in two shipping containers that the team connects together. The Jason crew sits directly in front of the screens. The lead scientist for the dive sits behind the pilot’s right shoulder. Two other scientists sit farther back, where they monitor the action and record photos and video of notable events. Photo by Thorsten Stoeck.

In June of 2011, pilot Ben Tradd demonstrated how the manipulator arms of Jason work. When he moves the joints of the control arm, the manipulator arm makes exactly those same movements.

In a pre-dive prep session, lead navigator and pilot Dara Scott uses a calculator to check figures on the navigational computer.

Casey Agee has one of the best qualities a Jason navigator can have, says Ben Tradd. “He’s always thinking ahead, to where Jason needs to go next.”

Navigator Cathy Offinger handles communications for the Jason team and also for the group at WHOI that handles Sentry, an autonomous underwater vehicle.

One of the best times to see how Jason and Medea are linked is when they are in the process of being recovered back aboard ship. The two vehicles come to the surface at the same time, but the team is careful to keep their tether fully extended so it doesn’t tangle and the vehicles don’t bump each other. Medea is brought aboard first. Then Jason is driven to a spot farther aft for recovery.

After Medea is safely stowed on deck, Jason is picked up by a large crane and lifted onto the deck. The triangular metal frame is the swing arrestor, which keeps Jason from swinging too much on the end of its lift line. The tire prevents the swing arrestor from scratching Jason.

Scott Hansen checks wiring in the inner workings of ROV Jason. Many of the wires (seen here in orange) run through thick tubing that is filled with oil, to protect them from the saltwater environment.

Even the most successful dive would have little value to scientists if they didn’t have records of what Jason saw and did. Bringing back specimens is one way to do that. The other way is to digitally record everything that happens during the dive. That’s the specialty of James Pelowski (right, with Akel Kevis-Stirling), the data guru for the group.

[ Back to today's journal ]