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Sampling Equipment

Scientific sampling with Jason can range from relatively simple procedures like rock retrieval to more complex data collection using specialized sensors.  The ROV’s capability to interface with instruments, and the reduction in size of many external sensors, has enabled acquisition of a wide range of data types and greatly improved the quality and quantity of the data collected.

Although many of the sampling techniques used during dives have been developed and refined through years of practice, Jason Group engineers are available to assist with the development of mission-specific sampling concepts.  This may include discussion of in-situ experimental methods and sampling techniques, design of custom sensors, joint operations with other vehicles (e.g., AUV Sentry), use of sampling elevators, etc.

The following are brief descriptions of the sampling gear routinely available for use by cruise participants.  In most cases the samplers are carried with the system from ship-to-ship and available on short notice. In a few special cases there may be some lead time associated with preparation and availability of the equipment.  In all cases the requirements to use Jason-supplied sampling equipment must be made known to the Jason Group as far in advance as possible during pre-cruise planning.


Schilling Robotics TITAN 4 Manipulator (2)

Servo-Hydraulic, 7-function, 1,922mm reach, 122kg lift at full-extension (454kg nominal), intermeshing jaws

Sampling Space & Payload

Forward sampling drawer “basket”: 98 cm (38.5″) x 1.52 m (60″), with hydraulic movement

Swing arms (one each side): 51 cm (20″) x 51 cm (20″), with hydraulic movement

Aft-bay: (42″ x 24″ x 66″)

Payload (Two Body): Up to 450 lbs. depending on sensor packages and depths

Payload (Single Body): Up to 4,000 lbs.

Elevators:  Three elevators are available to support a wide range of dive missions to increase sampling capacity and bottom time.

Jason Elevator

Jason elevator secured to deck. Placed within range of ship’s crane for deployment/recovery.


  • Free ascent
  • Payload area ~ 28.5 SQ. FT.
  • Payload water weight – 163 lbs.
  • Payload air weight – 1000 lbs.
  • Mission configurable
Jason minivator

Jason minivator with stand-alone float pack.


  • Smaller footprint
  • Smaller payload
  • Stand alone float pack can accommodate up to three rings of syntactic foam depending on desired buoyancy


Jason undervators

Two Jason undervators en-route to field operations.


  • For use with single-body Jason configuration
  • Heavy lift capacity
  • Approx. 92″ long x 68″ wide


Biological Sample Collection Boxes (Bio Boxes)

Jason‘s standard biological sample boxes are constructed of 1″ thick HDPE plastic and have a fully-hinged lid with a polyurethane tube seal. These boxes provide a reasonable measure of insulation and sample integrity. They are best used for robust samples as some mixing may occur during transit. These boxes fit nicely on Jason‘s swing-arms.

Available sizes:

Standard – 12″ x 12″ x 12″,  5 available 

Large – 30″ x 12″ x 12″,  2 available (can be half-sectioned via a removable central divider)



The SeaBird Seacat19v2 Profiler CTD measures conductivity, temperature, and depth (pressure) at 16 Hz (16 samples/second) as it travels through the water column.  It features pumped and ducted constant flow for matched temperature and conductivity response, and measurements are made on the same sample of water with a predictable delay and predictable flow effects.  CTD data can be used to calculate salinity, density, sound velocity, as well as other parameters of interest.  The interface is RS-232.  The CTD is typically used in a free-run ASCII output mode: alternate uses of the CTD should be addressed prior to the cruise and may require a dedicated watchstander from the science party.

1 meter heat flow probe 1 meter heat flow probe

Heat Flow Probes

Jason has two heat flow probes available:  a 1 meter long five-element temperature sensor and a 0.60 meter long four element temperature sensor.

Both sensors are used to measure temperature gradients when inserted into soft sediments. Measurable temperature range is 0 to 40 °C, with 0.2 degree accuracy and .001 degree resolution.  Additionally, a temperature pulse can be generated and monitored to observe temperature decay in sediments. Data from the heat flow probe is normally displayed on the observer’s internal video overlays and is additionally recorded in the submersible’s computer data files. Only one probe may carried during a dive. Water weight is 4 lbs each. Basket space is required to carry the quiver.


Honeywell Magnetometer
This is a 3-axis magnetometer based on the Honeywell HMR2300 sensor. It is capable of measuring up to ±2 Gauss with <70µGauss resolution, at about 10 samples per secear 50

Major water sampler pair Major water sampler pair

Major Water Samplers

Jason has eight Major water samplers available.

These 760 ml syringe-style instruments have inert titanium housings, and are capable of handling water temperatures in excess of 400°C.  They are typically mounted to the manipulator and triggered using a hydraulic tom-thumb ram.  Post-dive care and maintenance of this equipment is the responsibility of the science party.

Niskin water sampling bottle 2.5 liter Niskin water sampling bottle

Niskin Bottles

Jason has four, 5L General Oceanics Model 1010 Niskin Water Samplers available.

These instruments are commonly used to capture water column and hydrothermal vent plume water samples.  They seal off the sample and allow it to be brought to the surface without mixing with water from different depths.  The water collected by Niskin bottles is used for studying plankton or measuring many physical characteristics such as salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrient concentrations (such as phosphate, nitrate and nitrite), and dissolved organic and inorganic carbon. Jason can carry two 5L bottles on its starboard side in an area that would otherwise be unused, but it can also accommodate additional bottles in the front basket or aft bay. The samplers are rigged with releases that can be triggered using the manipulators.


Push Corers

Push corers are soft sediment samplers deployed using a manipulator. They are 2.5″ ID by 12″ long, utilizing a removable, clear polycarbonate barrel. Commonly stowed in a 3 x 4 rack for a total of 12 corers, Jason can carry two of these racks for a maximum of 24 corers per dive. Note that carrying this many corers will limit the basket space available for additional science equipment. The racks are easily removable for post-dive processing.

There are a limited number of core barrels available during any particular leg. Investigators contemplating keeping samples in a collection barrel for post-cruise examination must make arrangements to replace all barrels used. PIs should also be prepared to supply watertight plastic endcaps for any samples taken. Procurement information for these two items can be furnished upon request. Water weight per 3 x 4 rack is 20 lbs; overall basket space required is 12″ x 18″ per rack.


Rock Collection Baskets

Jason can be equipped with milk crates fastened to the science basket in order to transport rocks or other bulky items collected using a manipulator.  If desired, the milk crates can be divided in order to help distinguish rocks taken from multiple sites.

Equipment available:

  • 12″ x 12″ x 12″ milk crates
  • 12″ x 18″ x 12″ milk crates

Scoop Nets

A number of manipulator-deployed scoop sample nets are available in various shapes and sizes.  Typically these are rigged with an open 1/4″ mesh bag or canvas rock bag and placed in the science basket on a space available basis.  Water weight is 2 lbs each.

RTD temperature probe RTD temperature probe ICL temperature probe ICL temperature probe

Temperature Probes

The resistance temperature device (RTD) is capable of measuring water temperature up to 400°C, reporting about one sample per second.  The instrument provides 0.01°C resolution and accuracy is 0.02°C.  The case is 4″ diameter by 6″ long, with typical sensor tips ¾” diameter and 12″ long.  Sensors are manipulator deployable utilizing a T-handle.  The instrument can be configured to report temperature from up to four sensors at once, though the time response is greatly decreased. ICL
The inductively-coupled link (ICL) temperature probe is a wireless data transfer device most commonly used in conjunction with major water samplers to take real time temperature measurements during sampling. The ICL electronics can also be used for a variety of other data transfer and control functions. The sensor tip of the ICL probe is installed in the inner bore of the water sampler intake nozzle and senses the fluid temperatures as water flows past. The measurable temperature range of the probe is 0 to 450°C.  Data from the probe is normally displayed on the observer’s internal video overlays and is additionally recorded in the submersible’s computer data files.  Water weight (ICL probe only) is 1 lb.


User-Supplied Equipment: Spares

Many user-supplied sampling devices, cameras and sensors are unique, are likely very specialized, and as such may have a higher incidence of problems during a dive series. The Jason Group strongly recommends that when a science program includes a user-supplied, specialized tool, camera, or sampling device, that sufficient practical spares are available for use in the event of a problem. Examples include spare cabling, o-rings and/or seals, tubing and fittings, valves, power supplies, data interfaces (Moxas) and other critical items that may experience problems or failure during a series.

A general rule of thumb is to expect some form of minor equipment issue, and to arrive prepared to respond to the problem with a reasonable complement of sparing and tools.

The Jason Group will provide as much expertise and problem evaluation as possible, and where possible and practical, the Group may be able to provide basic equipment support. But for unique sampling devices it is imperative that critical spares are available.

Additionally, the Group recommends that cruise participants bring sufficient ‘dummy’ plugs and caps, capable of protecting sensitive electronic connectors and plugs at depth.

Users should also ensure that they are well equipped with any specialized or unique tools and hardware that are important for the preparation, mounting or support of their equipment.

The Jason Group can provide guidance for spares and tooling as part of the pre-cruise planning process.


T-handle dimensions T-handle dimensions Typical T-handle Typical T-handle Examples of custom T-handles Examples of custom T-handles

User-Supplied Equipment: T-handles

The jaws of both manipulators are functionally equivalent and consist of opposing overlapping finger pairs. They are specifically designed to grip instruments which are fitted with a standard “T”-handle. The user should align the “T” with the vertical load. The user is cautioned not to assume compatibility between your tools and Jasons manipulators, even if the tools are fitted with T-handles. It is best to seek the advice of the Jason Group on instruments which have not been previously used with the manipulators, regardless of how dependable they may seem. Many biologically and geologically oriented tools, including a variety of pry bars and other rock breaking tools, soft and hard sediment corers, box corers, and current meters have been adapted for use in conjunction with the manipulator jaws and the associated actuator mechanism.


User-Supplied Equipment: Weight and Buoyancy

The Jason Group calculates the ROV’s payload as a part of the preparation for every dive. Air and water weights of installed user-supplied equipment and sampling tools are included in these calculations. It is important that accurate air and water (buoyancy) measurements are obtained for all science-supplied items intended for use on Jason and/or deployed platforms (elevators).  The Jason Expedition Leader will request these weights for all science gear at the beginning of each cruise.

Although use of a model to calculate air weight and net buoyancy of an assembly is possible, it is much more accurate to obtain air and water weights via empirical means.  Air weights may be found via standard means (appropriately sized scale).  Buoyancy measurements require that the item be submerged in sea water while measuring the resulting buoyancy.  Although not typical, users should be aware that some items may be neutrally or positively buoyant in sea water which could have an impact on use during sampling.  These items may be prone to float from the basket and thus require additional consideration.

Obtain weight and buoyancy for fully assembled components where possible and fully submerge the items during measurements.  To ensure accuracy during measurements, it is important to ensure all equipment air voids and cavities are fully flooded to the extent possible. For larger items, obtaining buoyancy may require the use of a crane and load cell to fully submerge the item in sea water.  With prior planning assistance may be available as a part of cruise mobilization (typically the two days prior to departure from port).

The Jason Group can provide additional guidance and assistance as required.

The National Deep Submergence Facility is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.