Once the ROV Jason begins collecting samples on the seafloor, we need a way to retrieve these samples as frequently as possible while Jason remains working underwater. This is where the elevator comes in.
A small team worked through sunrise, breakfast, and lunch today bolting down boxes and preparing the elevator for its first test dive. We recorded their operation to keep an eye on their progress (see below).
The elevator is a four-by-four-foot platform with collecting boxes and crates bolted to it, a weight mechanism that enables the elevator to sink, a tracking beacon to determine its location, and an incompressible, buoyant top of bubble-rich, low-density glass to bring it back to the surface.
After our team assembled the boxes, crates and respective lids to the platform, we fitted the elevator with a sensor to record water properties (temperature, turbidity), hoisted it over the side of the ship, and released it to sink down into the center of the caldera. The elevator will descend to 1600 meters beneath the surface before returning back to the ship.
Once we retrieve the elevator, we can begin with the next phase of our operations: deployment of Sentry and Jason.