Day 4: GLAD Expedition – Round-the-clock

Good morning- or whatever it is. It’s still morning for me (since I awoke at the crack of noon). We’re locked into the heart of the Large Scale Survey, meaning around-the-clock drifter deployments. Every 90-120 minutes, we reach a new drop zone (there are 20 such in the LSS) along our spiral course to the Deepwater Horizon site. In addition to the 20 tall, white drifters you’ve of course become familiar with in past issues of the “Daily CARTHEan,” four flat (surface-riding) drifters are being deployed to go along with four meteorological drifters that will report to NOAA for a period of several months.

(Photo by: Nathan Laxague)

Now, onto serious matters. Lunch was a delicious sandwich of Italian cold cuts (everything from soppressata to cappicola) with fresh buffalo mozzarella between slices of buttery, golden Italian bread. As if that wasn’t enough for a complete meal, the accompanying salad was a stack of shredded basil on slices of tomato on slices of buffalo mozzarella on slices of fried (but not too oily) eggplant. Whew.

The seas seem a bit calmer than they were yesterday and last night, but they still make showering an exciting (if precarious) task. of course, this might be due less to the energetic (or lack thereof) nature of the ocean and more due to the Walton Smith (which draws around six feet of water) hauling tail from drop site to drop site.

CARTHE GLAD Mission (Photo by: Nathan Laxague)

In any case, most scientists on board are looking ahead to Sunday’s “S1” deployment, so named for the shape that drifter deployment nodes will make in relation to one another. In other words, it’s an S-shaped curve of ten nodes, each containing nine white drifters. It’ll take three small boats and the Walton Smith to complete this leg of the experiment (along with heavy radio and GPS use to keep everything in line). In addition to their inboard “SPOT” GPS units, these 90 white drifters will contain a strapped-on, Otterbox-protected “GT-31” GPS. This unit self-records highly accurate latitude-longitude data once per second to an attached 2 GB SD card. Of course, this means that the drifters must be collected once the GT-31s’ batteries have run down. To aid in said collection, water-activated LEDs (as you may have remembered from the Day 3 issue) will be attached to one float of each of the 90 drifters.

Otterbox GPS units (Photo by: Nathan Laxague)

Until this “S1” deployment comes, though, I can’t say too much regarding how it will play out. I hope for calm seas and a smooth operation. Regardless, I will fill you in (either Sunday or Monday) on the deployment’s execution.

Nathan Laxague signing off (somewhere between LSS node 11 and LSS node 12).

1 comment

    • Pete Spence on July 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm


    Great blogs! I’m really enjoying them. They are both entertaining and informative.

    Good luck on deployments!

Comments have been disabled.