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.