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The importance of having a plan B (and C, D, E, and F)

The successful recovery of Medea after a ship-wide power outage. Jason, which can be seen floating at the end of the tether cable, was recovered shortly after. Photo by Zachary Clayton.

While power outages aren’t excessively common on research cruises, this event does encapsulate the nature of conducting science at sea: anything that can go wrong might go wrong at any given moment and—as happened today—without any prior warning. Chief Scientist Chris German’s mantra is to treat every day at sea like it may be your last day for conducting science, which is why he always has a plan B (and a plan C, D, E, and F if it comes to it).

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A look back at Alvin science verification (video)

The human-occupied submersible Alvin is ready to return to scientific research at its newly certified maximum depth of 6500 meters (4 miles). That’s the conclusion of a team of scientists who have spent the past three weeks taking the iconic sub through its paces at locations at the Puerto Rico Trench and Mid-Cayman Rise, testing its scientific…

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Alvin Science Verification by the Numbers

Members of the Alvin operations team enjoy early-morning coffee and conversation on the aft deck on August 18, 2022. In total, the whole team consumed 140 pounds of coffee. Photo by Marley Parker © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

“The new capabilities of a 6500-meter rated Alvin will continue the tradition of enabling generations of scientists the opportunity to make discoveries that will change the way we view the ocean and our world,” Soule says. “It’s an honor to be a part of that tradition.”

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From deep space to the deep sea

Andy Klesh smiles as he climbs out of Alvin after a successful dive on August 13, 2022. Photo by Marley Parker © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Guest post by Andrew Klesh, engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Exploring the unknown requires creativity, daring, and determination,” Klesh writes in the Alvin Science Verification Blog. “Space and ocean explorers are learning from each other to advance exploration.”

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A glimpse at Earth’s veins

NDSF Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence Anna Michel’s first dive in HOV Alvin; volcanologist Ken Rubin explains a veined deep sea rock; pilot Danik Forsman navigates Alvin in unknown terrain.

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Foraminifera for the win!

Ashley Burkett exclaims with delight as she plucks foraminifera from a glass sponge collected from the sea floor. Marley Parker © Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution In Atlantis’ Main Lab, Ashley Burkett, peers into her microscope and pokes at the glass sponge sitting on the stage.  “Yes!!” she exclaims, keeping her eyes trained on the ocular…

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From one sub to another

Two people in hard hats watching from the deck of the research vessel Atlantis as Alvin prepares to submerge. There are two divers on top of Alvin and a small boat close by.

When Alvin submerged for its second open water dive of sea trials on Thursday, July 7, it was operated by Senior Pilot Bruce Strickrott and carried two crew members who have a lot of experience with submersibles of other shapes and sizes. Randy Holt, Alvin’s new Expedition Leader, has piloted shallow-diving acrylic sphere and steel…

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