Preparing for below-halocline exploration of Taylor glacier

November 22, 2009

One of the science objectives of this year’s mission is to perform exploration of Taylor glacier, including sonar and visual imaging. This will require the robot to operate below the halocline. The halocline is at about 16 m depth and forms the dividing line between the freshwater lens at the top and the highly saline water at the bottom. The higher salinity of the water below the halocline means that the robot has to be ballasted with about 200 lbs of extra weight to be neutral in this layer. Since we do not want to unnecessarily disturb the halocline, the robot will start above the halocline from the bot-house. It will then drive to another melt-hole near the glacier another melt-hole close to the glacier, where we will lift it out partially with a gantry and ballast it.

Maciej, John and Peter have been working on getting this melt-hole ready for the past few days. They are almost done, and have the gantry installed today. The gantry will be used for partly lifting the bot out of the melt-hole.

Maciej and Jim working on the new melt-hole next to Taylor glacier. It has taken them about 5 days to get this far.

Maciej, Jim and Peter finished installing the gantry for lifting the bot today.

Maciej, Jim and Peter.

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Nov 21 – Here we come Taylor Glacier!

November 22, 2009

We performed a profiling mission on a high resolution grid near Taylor glacier.  The hope is that a detailed analysis of water properties will help reveal the source of fresh water inflow into the lake. We worked a 17 hour day. It was an exhausting but exhilarating day and moved us one step to closer to finding the source.

Below are some pictures from this year. For a complete visualization of the glacier face, see my entry from last year.

A view of Taylor glacier seen in the visualizer. This visualization is continuously updated as the robot moves, using the data from the robot's sonars. The red cloud at the top is the lake ice. The green cloud is the lake bottom. The vertical wall is the glacier face. It looks as if the glacier is floating on water with a 'lip' extending outwards. For visualization of the entire glacier face, see my entry from last year.

An image of the 'lip' of the glacier taken by the forward looking camera on the bot.


Nov 18 – To boldly go where no robot has gone before

November 22, 2009

Last few days were very successful for us. We fixed most of the hardware and software  problems and were able to finish profiling all the points in the lake. This was the main scientific objective of our mission and we were very happy to be done.

The weather cleared up and and Peter had arrived. John and Peter decided that they would like to get profiling data and bathymetric imaging of the narrows. The mission involved traveling all the way from the bot-house to east lobe of Bonney through the narrows. This was a bold mission and we executed with textbook perfection and efficiency.

We are working on data visualization and I will post pictures here when we have them done.

In today's misison, the bot drove all the way to east lobe of Bonney through the narrows.

Microbial mats at lake bottom in the narrows.

Rocks covered with microbial mats at lake bottom in the narrows.