After Alvin‘s successful first dive of the trip yesterday, today brought the first deployment ever of a brand new robotic tool called the Vent-SID. It will allow scientists on board to determine the metabolic activity of microbes—such as how quickly they use up certain substances—in their natural environment on the seafloor.
The Vent-SID is on its way to the bottom now. During Alvin‘s next dive, the sub will locate the Vent-SID on the seafloor, move it into position, and trigger the start of sampling. Since the tool has never been used at sea before, we’re eager to find out how its first test-run goes.
Alvin made another productive dive today, with pilot Bruce Strickrott, microbiologist Katie Scott, and pilot-in-training Jefferson Grau. They collected more vent fluids and tube worms.
While Alvin and its crew were on the bottom, the science team met to review yesterday’s dive. Stefan Sievert presented images of the site where the Vent-SID will take samples, the spot where giant tube worms were collected, and the black smoker from which chimney samples were taken.
Today’s dive went smoothly despite some squally weather that dumped rain on the Atlantis throughout the day. The captain shared a satellite image of the culprit: tropical weather system Invest 96E.
But the Alvin recovery team worked gamely through the rain and got the sub back aboard safely. To keep the crew and the sub’s sensitive electronics dry, Alvin backed into its hangar with the hatch closed.