The JR isn’t just big. It’s a big deal.

The JR is big. The derrick, pictured above, stands 62 meters tall — the equivalent of about 20 stories. She’s 143 meters long.  That’s about one and a half football fields. The lab section is seven stories. But The JR isn’t just physically big.  The JR is a big deal.

In a conversation with one of the ship’s scientists as we set sail on Thursday, he described the ship as the ocean-going equivalent of the Hubble Space Telescope. I think that’s about right. The JOIDES Resolution is helping us understand the global ocean in ways very similar to the way the Hubble is helping us to understand space.

The work is a big deal because the ocean covers about 71% of the surface. Stop reading and try to think about what that really means.

The ocean drives climate and is likely where life began. It’s also where most biomass is. Without the ocean, we wouldn’t be here. And yet, most of us don’t know much about ocean science. 

We as individuals and collectively as scientists, communities and governments ought to know more. The JOIDES Resolution can and should be central to helping build scientific and broader public understandings. Of course, it’s already doing that. The JR has been central to building understandings of plate-tectonics and sea-floor spreading, methane hydrates and their roles in the Earth system, and so much more. On this expedition, we’ll be placing a CORK on and in the sea-floor that helps to better understand earthquakes and more. And, I’m part of a group of 17 "School of Rockers" who are educators thinking about and working on ways to help the public understand what The JR is doing and why it matters.

It’s kind of a big deal.