Blog Posts Tagged "Microbiology"
A few days ago, we were all waiting for the next "elevator" to come back up to the ship (an elevator is a structure, about the size of an elevator, that scientists load equipment and materials on -- they then lower it overboard, weighted down so it will sink to the sea floor -- the JASON can move the elevator around on the ocean bottom as needed -- they can load equipment back on
ahhhhhhhhhhh, the beautiful ocean! This morning I was standing on the bow with my camera (always), a cup of coffee and an EXCELLENT raspberry muffin, watching for sea birds, or fish, or really anything moving around. The whispering, rolling ocean mirrored the soft grey clouds overhead. Halfway through the muffin, I noticed something hovering over the surface...it looked like a
When we left port, there was sort of a “hurry up and wait” atmosphere about the ship. This expedition has been many months—years, really—in the making, so once everyone was finally onboard they were ready to get working! Unfortunately, there was a four-day transit to the study site to ride out before the real operations would get underway.
So here I am, a NASA scientist working on a drilling rig. People have asked, “Why does NASA care about the ocean crust?” Well, one of the things NASA is interested in is detecting signs of present or past life on other worlds.
Microbiologists study microbes, which is why they are not called giganticbiologists. Microbes are living things that can only be seen with a microscope. We usually think of microbes as being germs, but only a teeny, tiny percentage of microbes make people sick. Most of them are completely harmless to people and some we could not live without!
One of the goals of our visit to 395A was to deploy an experimental logging tool known as the Dark Energy Biosphere Investigative Tool, or DEBI-T, for short. Logging tools are instruments designed to scan a borehole, after it has been drilled, to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of that hole. These instruments are lowered through the drill pipe and into the hole to measure characteristics such as density, porosity and conductivity. The logging in 395A was different in two respects: first, 395A was already drilled, and second, the instrument suite included DEBI-T, an instrument we designed to assess how many bacteria might be within the borehole.
While we’re at sea, we’ve got this great group of scientists all together in the same place. Each one knows a little something different, so they all get together and teach each other about what they know. Yesterday, I got learn from Dr. Olivier Rouxel, a Petrologist from France.
We have been drilling down into the seafloor for a few days at a new hole, U1382A, which is about 50m away from ill-fated Hole 395A. That’s only about 1/3 of the length of the JR, so it’s not that far away. First, we landed a re-entry cone with some casing (steel tube) to reinforce the hole once we started drilling.