Tag Archives: methane

Telepresence on the R/V Sally Ride

From November 28 to December 5, 2016, the Inner Space Center (ISC) supported a science verification cruise for the R/V Sally Ride, one of two, new vessels in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet.  These short cruises are intended to test the ship, crew, and science systems to make sure that all are in proper working order before the ship  departs for its first research expedition. The Sally Ride was named after the late Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who was part of the space shuttle Challenger crew in 1983.

The ISC team tested
the ship’s capabilities to support the Jason remotely operated vehicle (ROV) system as well as ship-to-shore telepresence technologies and protocols that will enable shore-based participation during ROV dives. Director of the ISC, Dr. Dwight Coleman, installed a mobile telepresence unit (MTU) on board. This unit allows for any ship to have telepresence capabilities.

ROV Jason deployed off the R/V Sally Ride.

During the cruise, ROV Jason was used for a variety of exploration activities. Geophysicist, Dr. Mark Zumberge, and his group from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, used Jason to attach geophysical sensors to the sea floor. Dr. Lisa Levin, also from Scripps, used the ROV system to continue biological survey of the seafloor around the Del Mar methane seep near San Diego, CA.

View from ROV Jason.

Along with ROV operations, the R/V Sally Ride was able to connect to the Birch Aquarium. Amanda Netburn, Bruce Applegate, and Dwight Coleman hosted live  broadcasts to the aquarium’s new Sally Ride exhibit.

Birch Aquarium audience.

For more details about the R/V Sally Ride, visit their website.

Ice That Burns

The Okeanos science team comes across a rocky outcrop, and discovers a huge abundance of animals that are usually around gas seeps or methane seeps.

The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is exploring the Gulf of Mexico for the entire month of April. From the first splash of remotely operated vehicle D2, the discoveries have been truly amazing.

Within a very narrow range of special depths, temperatures and chemical compositions, the conditions can be just right for a spectacular chemical reaction. Once released, methane bubbles from below the seabed can become frozen and suspended in structures of ice. Confused? It’s a tough one to explain. (The video clip will help.) These methane bubbles can be “trapped” in cage-like crystal structures within the ice, called methane hydrate or methane ice. Methane hydrates are very interesting. In the Gulf of Mexico, sites like this are potential sources of highly concentrated energy, naturally occurring thousands of meters below the surface of our ocean. The future for these deeply fascinating areas are unknown. One obvious statement though: they are breathtaking.

Watch below and experience this wonderful discovery with the science team.