Jason Control Van

Dr. Nooner, as head scientist for some of the dives, what is your role in the control van?

“I am in charge of all science that gets done during that dive. The Jason ROV is controlled by highly skilled pilot, navigator, and engineer without whom we could get nothing accomplished. However, they do not know the science objectives and goals and it is my job to tell them where to go, what instruments to deploy, what samples to collect, what video to collect, and anything else that is needed to accomplish the science.” — Dr. Nooner

In a previous post, I told you all the cool facts about ROV Jason and mentioned that it takes a crew of six people to run the whole operation for just four hours. Jason is not permanently on the Thomas G. Thompson, but is able to travel between different research vessels, which takes a lot of equipment. Everywhere he goes, there are three large sheds (made from shipping containers) that move with him; two are full of tools, parts, and equipment, while the other contains the controls and monitors used whenever Jason is submerged.

Part of the Jason Control Van showing some of the monitors.

Part of the Jason Control Van showing some of the monitors.

This last shed, which is two shipping containers put together, is called the Control Van. It is equipped with about 40 screens (TVs and computers) that display live feed from the cameras attached to both Jason and Medea. The six people that sit in the van at one time include the pilot, navigator, engineer, head scientist, data logger, and video logger.

As part of my role on this cruise, I am one of the video loggers. This entails sitting in the van for four hours at a time checking to make sure the video feed is recording on the DVD’s at all times. There are two large DVD recorders that each record up to six DVD’s at once. When I first get into the van for my watch, I ensure that the recorders are loaded properly with six disks then sit around and wait for Jason to be deployed into the water. Once he is near the seafloor, I start all six of the DVD’s in one of the recorders and log the start date and time onto a spreadsheet. Each DVD records two hours of video, so once it has been one hour and 58 minutes, I begin recording the second set of DVD’s and log the start date and time for those. After a set of six has been recorded, I print labels onto the disks and set them aside. In addition to monitoring these disks, I also aid the data logger in recording written notes while she logs them onto the virtual van website.

The data logger is responsible for entering scientific notes about the dive and samples taken into the Virtual Van website, which is our data logging system for each dive. This system captures still images from three of the cameras at a set interval (about one a minute) and loads these onto the website. Any time the data recorder enters text, it is associated with one of the images.

Here is a link to the Virtual Van website where you can check out some interesting images from previous scientific expeditions. http://4dgeo.whoi.edu/jason/ The website is available for public and scientific use.

Until next time!


    • matthew (from jayme)
    • September 9th, 2013

    HI how much does a trip like this cost? from matthew

    • Hi Matthew,

      A trip like this costs a lot of money! In order to get the money needed for all the instruments used, travel, living aboard the ship, etc. a proposal is submitted to a foundation such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) describing exactly what we will do, how much money we need, why we need it, and why this research is important. If the proposal is accepted, we would get money and a trip would be planned.


    • alex (from jayme)
    • September 9th, 2013

    We love the gumbi suit! how deep does jason have to go to the seafloor?
    from jayme and alex

    • Hi Jayme and Alex,

      At Axial Seamount, Jason has to go to a depth of about 1500 meters to get to the seafloor.


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