Because the Hump area is an inhospitable location, researchers such as Dr. Ballard use advanced technology wherever they can - not only to make detailed observations and measurements, but also to protect them from harsh conditions.
No matter what tools researchers use in their scientific investigations, their research will be successful only if they use the tools properly. Many researchers, including Dr. Ballard, rely on a team of marine engineers to help them:
Dr. Ballard's team of engineers is headed by Dr. Dana Yoerger, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. A robotics specialist, Dr. Yoerger will help Dr. Ballard and his colleagues use a manipulator arm to collect samples from the seafloor.
Dr. Jon Howland, a specialist in imaging and data processing, will help the researchers put together images of the study site-a task that is critical to the mapping process.
The third member of Dr. Ballard's engineering team, Commander David Olivier, is an electrical engineer and the Officer in Charge of the U. S. Navy submarine NR-1. Commander Olivier will help the researchers navigate so that they get to the correct research area and know precisely where they are at any given time. He will also help the researchers use the NR-1's acoustic and visual imaging equipment in mapping experiments.
Another engineering feature of most submarines, including the NR-1, are ballast tanks that can hold water or air. Find the ballast tanks on the diagram. By adding or withdrawing water or air, submarine operators can change the weight of the ballast tanks-and thus of the submarine as a whole. Adding water to the ballast tanks, for example, makes the submarine heavier, causing it to sink. Taking out the water and replacing it with air makes the submarine lighter, causing it to rise.
The NR-1 relies on nuclear power for all its systems, from propulsion to generating breathable oxygen for the crew. The small reactor on board uses nuclear fission to convert atomic energy to electrical and mechanical energy to run the ship's systems.
The NR-1's special tools allow it to move close to a seabed to collect samples and other data about the ocean's chemical, thermal, optical, biologic, and acoustic characteristics. Some NR-1 tools used for these missions include a side-looking sonar system, a bottom profiling sonar system, a depth profiling sonar system, a manipulator arm and work module, electronic still cameras, stereo imaging equipment, and viewing ports.
Sonar stands for SOund NAvigation Ranging. A sonar system uses
sound waves to detect objects, create images of objects and structures,
and measure distances. The NR-1's sonar system has a device called a
transducer that emits bursts of sound waves. Each burst of sound
waves that the transducer sends out travels through the water around
the submarine, bounces off objects in the area, and then returns to the
submarine, where it is detected by the transducer.
The sonar system's processing unit measures how long it takes for sound waves emitted by the transducer to return to the submarine. Based on that length of time, the sonar system computes the distance traveled by the sound waves-the distance between the submarine and the object. By analyzing many different returned sound waves (called echoes) that have bounced off different objects or different parts of the same object, the sonar system creates an image of objects in the submarine's path. The distance measurements also help the submarine operators navigate-so that they know where they are.
The NR-1 is equipped with three types of sonar:
During JASON Project research, Dr. Yoerger will demonstrate these techniques to the other researchers as well as to students.
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Gene Carl Feldman
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Revised: 30 Oct 1995