ROV Jason

ROV Jason being lowered into the water.

ROV Jason being lowered into the water.

Jason, the Remotely Operated Vehicle that is being used throughout this research cruise. He is an impressive robotic submarine that is 3.4 m in length, 2.4 m in height, 2.2 m wide, and can reach depths up to 6,500 m which covers most of the seafloor. Jason weighs a little over 4,000 kg and usually travels at about 1.0 knot (about walking speed).

In order to eliminate the shock that would be felt from the ship, Medea, Jason’s dive partner, is attached to the ship by an electro-optic steel-armored cable. Beneath Medea is another cable that leads down to Jason. This one is a 55 m neutrally buoyant fiberoptic cable that allows him to roam freely away from Medea without feeling the movement from the ship.

Jason has six color video cameras and one still camera that all aid in monitoring the equipment he carries as well as what and where to sample, and the surroundings. There is an imaging sonar and a multibeam sonar for mapping the seafloor and he is equipped with two robotic arms that are controlled from a room on deck. These arms allow samples to be collected and equipment to be used or moved into vent openings and other small areas. Jason has two kinds of water samplers on board; one of them collects up to 500 mL of fluid and is able to withstand the hot waters associated with hydrothermal vents. The other sampler can collect about 140 mL but keeps a high pressure on the water and dissolved gases as the sample comes up to the surface.

Medea entering the water, Jason is just visible underneath the surface.

Medea entering the water, Jason is just visible underneath the surface.

Using Jason is a massive operation that takes a lot of people. At a minimum, he needs a pilot, a navigator, an engineer, and three scientists to record data, monitor video feed and decide where to go and what to do. He can work up to 24 hours a day but that means that teams have to rotate approximately every four-hours. This is usually done by each team having two four-hour shifts each day, which means that there have to be 18 people on board (9 Jason crew and 9 scientists). For this trip, there are two projects that each have three 16-hour dives and our project, which has a 5-6 day continuous dive.

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