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cloudy weather
58°F (14.8°C)
Latitude: 47° 55'N
Longitude: 129° 06'W
Wind Direction: W
Wind Speed: 20 Knots
Sea State: 2-3
Swell(s) Height: 3-5 Foot
Sea Temperature: 55°F (12.8°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1017.0 MB
Visibility: 1 mile

what's to eat

Sausage patties
Grilled Spam
Home fries
Scrambled eggs
Blueberry pancakes
Sour cream walnut coffee cake

Chinese winter soup
Asian salmon penne stir-fry
Kosher corn dogs
Baked beans
Meatloaf sandwiches
Garlic parmesan cauliflower
Sour cream walnut coffee cake

Roast leg of lamb and gravy
Blackened mahi with watermelon salsa
Roasted zucchini with onions and peppers
Baked potatoes
Salad bar
Apple crisp

crossword puzzle

Fishing for Microbe Burritos on the First Alvin Dive
May 26, 2004
By Amy Nevala

It’s after 9 pm, the dinner dishes are washed and the ship’s decks are growing dark, but for many scientists on Atlantis, the workday is just beginning. Tonight researchers have started looking at water samples, temperature readings, and rocks and microbes collected during our first Alvin dive today.

At 8 this morning, Alvin sunk out of sight into a cold, cement-gray sea and headed down to the Mothra hydrothermal vent field on the Endeavour Segment. They visited a cluster of black smoker chimneys known as Faulty Towers, and focused on two black smokers, Roane and Hot Harold.

At Roane, a 24-foot chimney, pilot Patrick Hickey gave the sulfide pinnacle “a hair trim,” meaning he snapped off a small section of the tip for later analyses by researchers. The second chimney, Hot Harold, lived up to its sizzling name. The roiling fluids registered 547 degrees Fahrenheit, more than enough to bake pizza in an oven on land.

After five hours submerged, the researchers returned to the surface at 3:30 pm. Near-freezing water had surrounded the sub on the seafloor, and after stepping shivering from Alvin’s unheated belly, scientists Deb Kelley and John Delaney were handed mugs of hot coffee. In the tropics, Alvin soaks up warmth before diving and keeps a more comfortable temperature throughout the dive. Not so in the northern Pacific Ocean, where the days get no warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That was the coldest dive I’ve ever had,” said Deb, who has taken more than 40 trips to the seafloor in her career.

Still, she was smiling broadly. For the last 10 months she has waited to retrieve the incubators she inserted into Roane during a previous expedition. Their successful recovery is an important step in her hydrothermal vent research. Though it will be weeks before she knows how well the temperature and microbe collection processes worked within the incubators, she was pleased to see that the incubators survived the hostile seafloor environment.

Once Alvin was safely secured in its specially designed hangar, Pat Hickey gave the word to the antsy scientists to “let the pillaging begin.” Researchers descended on the sub’s sample basket—a kind of shelf that protrudes from the front of the sub—and nabbed equipment and instruments collected from the seafloor. They rushed to labs inside the ship to begin taking them apart.

Deb and several of her graduate students spent the next hours prying open the two recovered incubators, which were covered in a dusty gray sulfide that filled the air with the stench of rotten eggs. Inside they searched for two slim, flat mesh-covered objects, nicknamed “burritos” by the researchers.

In the lab tonight, Deb and her students removed microbes from the burritos and put them into test tubes. Next they will heat and squeeze the organisms in special high-temperature, high-pressure chambers that mimic conditions on the seafloor. By growing these microbes in a controlled lab, they can learn more about how these microorganisms live, eat, and grow, and gain new insight into how hydrothermal vent microbes thrive in one of the most extreme environments on earth.