Monday, May 23, 2011

My Hawaiian research cruise: For Science!

On the first day of the cruise, my research group put out a wave buoy and a current mooring off of Kaneohe on the east shore of O'ahu (the island with Honolulu, where we started from).

Wave buoy making a splash. This is one of the buoys surfers can use to get a sense of the swell coming in.

There was a lot of downtime while we waited for the ship to move to the right position, or for the line to be let out a couple thousand meters, etc.

This is what my main job was on the ship: hold the line to steady the CTD sensors as they were lowered in and taken out of the water. This morning off of Moloka'i we had some beautiful scenery--photos of that will come later.

That's me on the right. I tie my own bowline knot.

Here's the computer lab, monitoring everything about the ship. That big screen in the center is what I was there to read. Looks kind of unintelligible at first, but it's actually pretty simple: how close the black lines are together corresponds to how close the CTD is to the ocean bottom. Time is on the x-axis, with current time at the right side, and the y-axis is milliseconds for a ping from the pinger attached to the CTD to reach the ship. One black line is the ping that reaches the ship directly, the other is the ping that bounces off the bottom then reaches the ship. The closer the lines are to each other, the closer the sensor is to the bottom.

Arguably the most exciting research project on our ship was this one guy taking some sort of atmospheric data with a bright green laser. Mostly he pointed it up at the sky, but he'd sometimes do sweeps down to the horizon. It's not eye safe for a few miles, so whenever it was on, someone would have to stand watch for airplanes and turn it off if it looked like it might fry the eyes of someone looking down from an airplane window. But it was a great show at night. Also, it was kind of cool to say that I was on a ship that shoots dangerous lasers at airplanes (well, it could).

Here's the laser-shooting apparatus.

And here's the laser, shooting off toward the water.

Pew pew!

Tomorrow: photos of O'ahu from the ship.

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