The penguin colony trip has once again been postponed; although I am very disappointed, I am hopeful that the opportunity may come up again! Schedules are tricky here! We have to have two snowmobiles and two people trained in snowmobile and sea ice safety - neither of which I have and the classes are backed up with a waiting list. There were originally two drivers going, I was the third person in the party. But one driver got called out to Siple Dome, so we have to wait. The plan now is to go tomorrow; we'll see!But, the good news is that the ENDURANCE has finally arrived in Antarctica. This is the robot that Dr. Peter Doran is launching this year in Lake Bonney. Lake Bonney is in Taylor Valley which is one of the Dry Valleys in Antarctica. It is the same valley that Lake Hoare is in, but it is further up into the valley. It actually butts up against the Taylor Glacier which is the main glacier that flows into the head of Taylor Valley.
ENDURANCE stands for: Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic ANtarctiC Explorer. The ENDURANCE is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) which means it is programmed to run without connections to the surface. The ENDURANCE has three missions for its time in Antarctica: 1) To create a high resolution 3-D sonar map of West Lake Bonney (Lake Bonney is divided into East Lobe and West Lobe; ENDURANCE will be mapping the west lobe); 2) To create a photo-mosaic and 3-D map of the front of Taylor glacier, specifically the part that is below the lake ice; 3) To create a 3-D biogeochemical map of West Lake Bonney - this has never been done before!
The robot itself will slowly maneuver itself back and forth across West Lake Bonney just one meter below the bottom of the ice. It will periodically, in designated locations, lower a sonde (a sonde is an assembly of instruments which can gather data about the surrounding area) vertically to lower depths. Once collected, the sonde returns to the robot and it moves on to the next designated position.
The sonde contains sensors to measure conductivity, temperature, pressure, pH/ORP (Oxygen Reduction Potential - this allows the researchers to know how well the oxidizers in the water can keep it free of contaminants), PAR (Photosynthetically Available Radiation, chlorophyll and turbidity. It also carries a fluorometer to measure dissolved organic material, it has a bottom camera, and bottom sonar. This science package is impressive! I'll have much more to say about that as we move through this project!
The ENDURANCE was in a big crate!
I helped pry the roof and sides off the box.
First glimpse of "The Bot"!
Peter is excited that this 5 million dollar robot appears to have arrived in Antarctica safely!
We start to see the rest of the robot!
And finally - the entire thing (well.... minus batteries, electronics package, etc!)
Me and the ENDURANCE or "The Bot"!
This thing is impressive!
Final view from above!
Stay tuned - this is going to be GREAT!
Also - Scubadooba Doo is getting charged up! I am still working on confirming an exact launch date, so stay tuned for that as well!
You can also check out my journals and pictures from previous seasons at: