Leyf Peirce, July 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Leyf Peirce
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier

July 6 – 15, 2004

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area:
Eastern Aleutian Islands, Alaska
July 11, 2004

Time: 21:00
Latitude: N 55°17.27
Longitude: W 160°32.16
Visibility: 4 nm
Wind direction: 095
Wind speed: 10 knots
Sea wave height: 0 – 1 foot
Swell wave height: —
Sea water temperature: 10.6 °C
Sea level pressure: 1017.0 mb
Air temperature: 12.8 °C
Cloud cover: 4/8

Science and Technology Log

Today was my second day aboard a launch boat. With SS Foye, ST Taylor, and ENS Samuelson, we continued to follow lines to chart the ocean floor just south of Egg Island. Today we were on launch boat 5, and luckily everything was working great! We were working with the Reson 8101 again. It should be noted that in previous journal entries I have been misnaming some of the equipment used. Today, I finally got the nomenclature correct. Here are the basics:

  1. ELAC multibeam system is used for deep water, with best resolution over 30 meters
  2. There are two shallow water mulitbeam (SWMB) systems:
    1. Reson 8125 is used with a higher frequency and has better resolution in depths of 0 – 30 meters
    2. Reson 8101 is used for “middle depths” of 0 –120 meters (mostly 30 –120 meters)

I also learned a lot more about how to use the software aboard the ship while we are taking data. For the Reson 8125 and Reson 8101, there are three computers aboard the ship that can talk to each other. Two are located in the cabin and one is located on the deck. One computer in the cabin is used primarily to navigate; the old charts are downloaded onto this computer and the lines on which we need to steer the boat (the lines for mowing the lawn) are superimposed on this chart. This computer is not only hooked up to the computer that gathers data, but is also connected to a computer that is mounted on the console so the captain can see where he or she needs to go. The navigational computer in the cabin is also directly hooked up to the other computer in the cabin. This second cabin computer is connected to the actual multibeam echo scanner system that is mounted to the hull of the ship. When instructed to do so, the second cabin computer can record the data from this system. One of the researchers uses the navigational computer to tell the second computer when to start and stop recording the data. Because the second computer is hooked up to the multibeam system, it also is used to control the parameters of this system, including filters, range, frequency of “pings”, and power. There are several different screens within the program used to control all of this, including a profile screen, which actually shows the profile of the ocean floor, a pitch/roll/heave screen to record that the POS/MV (the positioning device also hooked up to this computer that integrates with the data correcting for the gyration of the ship and it’s position), and a control screen. There are several other screens which can be displayed on this computer, however these listed here are the most important to monitor while gathering data. The power of the multibeam system can be monitored and altered according to depth and profile of the floor; if you want the device to “listen to the pings better”, you increase the power, and however, this also decreases resolution. You would want to do this in greater depths. You can also manually control the depth filter for the data. In order to do this, you change the range of the depths the multibeam system is looking for. This in turn changes the width of the footprint left by the data and thus the resolution. By doing this as you gather data, you are eliminating possible outlying points before ever having them recorded and you are allowing for better resolution at shallower depths. This makes the data processing and cleansing easier, yet it requires constant attention and anticipation while gathering data.

While this technology works relatively well in the field, it is still very expensive and time consuming. A possible design project for my students would be to analyze the existing system and brainstorm ideas for improvement. This would even include researching other systems used internationally.

Personal Log

Today was yet another beautiful day once the fog lifted by mid morning. I am still enchanted by the concept of conducting research on a boat all day—it seems like a job I would love to pursue! Not only are you contributing to society, but you get to see wonderful sights—today we saw a bald eagle, lots of puffin, and two sea lions! I cannot help but laugh at the puffin, though. They eat so much and have such little wings and huge hearts that they try with all their might to fly, but they only become air born with the nudge of a wave. And even then they only maintain an altitude of about 6 inches before they crash into another wave. They are both very amusing and very inspiring. I keep thinking that they are thinking “I think I can, I think I can, Never give up!” With so many sights and things going on both on and off the research vessel, I was not at all disappointed when we were radioed that we were going to spend an extra hour collecting data because the weather was so good (slightly chilly, but the sun was out). When we returned I learned how to download the data to the computers aboard the RAINIER, and then I saw the beginning steps for processing this data. I can’t wait to learn more tomorrow!

Question of the Day: A design problem: a gyrocompass is used to determine bearing and relies on electricity (it has an internal electromagnet). The gyrocompass on the bridge looks like this:

Peirce 7-11-04 gyrocompass

Notice that the angles visible here are 70 ° and 90 °, a difference of 20 °. However, this 20 ° difference is spread over what is actually about 100 °. How, then, does the gyrocompass span the full 360 °?

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