Dateline: Nikumaroro, 14 July 2012
The AUV was out all night (the 13th/14th) and collected a lot of data. They’ve spent the day processing it and there are a number of Category 2 (Really Good) targets that the techs feel sure are manmade. The new system is working very well: work down the reef slope collecting data; go straight up; work down again – think skiing, you ski down and take the lift up.
The ROV went in the water at 09:45 local (19:45 Z) for a six hour mission. (ROV missions are six hours because that is how much storage there is on the HD video camera.) At the end of the six hour mission they decided to leave it in for a while and continue searching. During that additional search time, the tether got wedged between a rock and the cliff face, and they couldn’t get it untangled, even using the manipulator arm which developed a problem with the hydraulics in the process. So they brought the ROV back up (this event was at 312 feet), and they’ll send it back down, having fixed the manipulator arm and changed out the camera, untangle the tether, and continue the mission until sunset or thereabouts. Then they’ll put the AUV back down. (The two technologies can’t run simultaneously because the ship has to follow the AUV.)
It’s tedious work watching the ROV feed. Your eye sees things and wants to make sense of them in a human way, you look at coral and rocks and your eye tries to interpret them as People Stuff. It’s dark in the Can, and there’s only just so much WOW factor in endless streaming video of coral and cliff-face and rocks. They are surveying the reef slope off the “Nessie” location in 60 foot swaths from 70 feet down to 1200 feet. It’s very steep and very clean; any manmade object will be very significant. The weather is good, seas calm, and that allows them to stay stable and close in to shore, which is a big help.
External link: http://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Niku7/niku7dailies3.html