Geophysics Team Arrive on Ice / Progress for Drillers and SCINI

SALSA Field Report 11.3.18

The SALSA Surface Geophysics has arrived on ice. The team is lead by SALSA Principal Investigator Helen Fricker who is staying in the US where she will manage the SALSA Geophysics Team, do media and public briefings, continue her role as Science Team member on NASA’s ICESat-2 mission, and take care of her children. The field team is lead by SALSA Geophysics Researcher and Assistant Professor Matthew Siegfried, and includes Assistant Professor Kerry Key, grad student Chloe Gustafson, and Mountaineer Meghan Seifert. The team will be joining the SALSA Traverse on its way to Lake Mercer and will be placing GPS stations and monitoring instruments along the way that will be used to measure ice movement and and height changes over time.

The Drill Team are continuing the preparation and loading of drill equipment onto the SALSA traverse, and the SCINI (Submersible Capable of Under Ice Navigation and Imaging) team successfully tested the ROV in the Crary aquarium water tanks.


Chloe and Matt put on their excited faces to deplane the C17 at Phoenix Airfield, McMurdo Station
Chloe and Matt put on their excited faces to deplane the C17 at Phoenix Airfield, McMurdo Station

Geophysics Update

The Geophysics team have been busy completing field training courses and testing and preparing science instruments for the field. Part of this is testing how well their instruments such as magnetotelluric receivers and environmental monitoring data loggers handle extremely cold temperatures. To do this the team ran their instruments outdoors in McMurdo and will also test them while camping in the shadow of the 12,000 foot active volcano Mt. Erebus near McMurdo station. During this overnight night camp, the team will also complete their crevasse rescue training course.

The team also successfully tested 12 GPS stations provided by UNAVCO (University NAVSTAR Consortium) that will measure ice movement surrounding Mercer Subglacial Lake along with an UNAVCO supplied temperature sensor power station used for the long-term subglacial observatory that will be installed into the Lake Mercer borehole.

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The 4,000 feet of ice overlaying Mercer Subglacial Lake creates a high pressure water environment akin to the deep ocean. Components of the SCINI ROV must be able to withstand 2,000 PSI of pressure which adds to the layers of complexity within its design. Chief Engineer Bob Zook and ROV Operator Mark Bowling have been hard at work making sure that SCINI is fully prepared to handle its deployment into such a high pressure underwater environment.

On October 31st, the team successfully tested SCINI in the water tanks within the Crary aquarium. The team has also continued configuring and testing the many interconnected components of the ROV, including monitoring software, fiber optic cable preparation, chip board installations, and the winch used to lower the ROV through the ice borehole. The SCINI sea ice test has had several delays due to weather, but with a successful water tank test finished, the team are currently on the ocean ice near McMurdo completing the ROV sea ice testing prior to its deployment into Lake Mercer.

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Drillers Update

The Drill team is on schedule for loading and preparing drill equipment to be brought to Lake Mercer on the SALSA Traverse. The team has continued building the Command and Control (C&C) Module which will contain the drill control room, loading the Mechanical Equipment Center (MEC) which will contain drilling equipment and tools, and loading the three winches onto the launch and recovery system (LARS) deck that will be towed on the SALSA traverse. Traversing can be a bumpy ride and the Drill team has spent much of their time securing and organizing tools and mechanical equipment so that it is brought to Lake Mercer safely and efficiently.

With everything on schedule, the team has had some extra time to help the SCINI team prepare the ROV for its sea ice test.

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