Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcome to the LARISSA cruise!

Right now, everyone is busy working in port. There is cargo to load, labs to set up, and endless problems to solve. But it will all be worth it once we set sail on January 2nd.

Here's the Research Vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer, otherwise known as the NBP.

And here's cargo being moved to one of the ships. I'm not sure if it's for us or for the ship docked next to us. You can see the US Antarctic Program logo on the container.

I don't have any science to report on yet, but I've been learning a lot. Docks are really exciting places because there are so many different projects going on at once. A big part of working on a ship is helping other people, so I spent most of yesterday helping the people who take samples of mud from the seafloor. You'll learn more about why they do that later on, but they didn't need me to understand – they just needed help. Once they get the mud, which they call sediment, on the ship, there has to be a way to store it. It turns out that the best way to do this is to take PVC plastic rain gutters and cut them so that the sediment can go inside them. It's the cutting that takes so long, because it has to be done very neatly and carefully. Here's what we used to do it:

That's called a bandsaw, and it has a very sharp blade. That white stuff you see is little pieces of PVC. I was covered in it by the end of the day! But we got the work done, which is the important part.