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Showing posts from June, 2020

Serious Sous Vide!

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In a daring culinary science experiment the current expedition team is trying a 'Mariana marinade' on the dive carrying Kelly Walsh (son of Trieste pilot Don Walsh) down into the Western Pool. Chef Manfred has a  6lb beef sirloin in a bag of marinade, plus 2 lbs each of Cajun chicken and chicken satay, being taken down to full ocean depth. (Its riding in the same compartment as all the “please shrink” styrofoam. Cups). That should drive the marinade and spice into the meat!  #infusion #sharkbait

Success!

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June 7, 2020: Journey to the bottom of the Challenger Deep - and back. Longer posts describing this remarkable day will follow soon. Will add pix when we get back to 4G bandwidth.  Stay tuned!

GO for Dive Ops!

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We are over the eastern pool of the Challenger Deep and making final preparations for our first dive. 

Victor has just gotten into the sub to power up and run through the pre-dive checklist. I board in about 30 minutes. We aim to be off the hook and pumping down at 8am local time. Fine seas (<1 meter wave + swell), winds about 15kts and yesterday’s squally weather breaking up. A great day for diving!

At Challenger Deep.

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We have arrived over the Challenger Deep. (You can see the depth - 10,352 meters or 33,963 feet - on the screen at left). Today is a day of mapping, with an autonomous lander deployment into the Western Pool.  
The weather is looking good for our dives.  All is well.  Today’s fun task is organizing a comms link from the bottom of the Challenger Deep to the International Space Station during my dive tomorrow. Fingers crossed we can make it work!

June 9: Swim time!

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Today’s highlight: Jumping off the ship for a swim in 36,000 ft of deep blue water.  

Otherwise a quiet day for us divers, as the Triton team works to prepare the sub for its next dive. We sent out three scientific landers back to the bottom of the trench this morning. They’re now on their way back to the surface with a day’s worth of data. Sadly, their retrieval times fall in the middle of the chef’s burger barbecue, so the Triton guys will have to eat and run, and postpone their beers until everything’s back on deck and secured. 

3 for 3!

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Limiting Factor is on her way back to the surface after the third and longest dive of our expedition (4 hours on bottom). Fifty-two years elapsed between Trieste’s dive in 1960 and the Deepsea Challenger dove in 2013. We conducted three successful dives in seven days. That’s testament to LF’s innovative design and superb engineering, and those come from the outstanding engineers at Triton Submarines. Thank you Triton! And thank you Victor Vescovo for inviting me along on this remarkable journey!

Bonanza!

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Our finalé, the third dive of our expedition, was hugely successful. Full duration of 4 hours on the bottom. A travers of about 1 mile in the easternmost shallow basin of the Eastern Pool. What look to be microbial mats and spectacular basal outcroppings at the eastern wall, cut by dramatic canyons. Victor and John got some great pix and videos!


Seriously high pressure

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Our sub, the Limiting Factor, is designed to withstand 116.7MPa, That's 100,000 tonnes of pressure bearing down on the complete sphere at Full Ocean Depth (i.e. where I’m going tomorrow). 11,000 tonnes per square metre means there will be 1,500 tonnes of pressure on the viewport and 2,200 tonnes on the hatch.

So, over the entire hull that’s akin to the weight of 291 jumbo jets or 7900 double decker buses.  
On each viewport that is the weight of 4 jumbo jets. 
On the hatch it is 5 jumbo jets or 175 London double decker buses or 1000 large SUV’s.

Underway

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From Expediton Leader Rob McCallum:
Hello LF Fans.   DSSV Pressure Drop is now departing Guam for the Challenger Deep.  The forecast holds promise, the team is focussed, the equipment is ready.   Dive 1 will be June 7th (June 6 in the US). 

Welcome aboard!

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We got to our home for the next 10 days around 10 pm last night: the Deep Submergence Support Vessel (DSSV) Pressure Drop
I’ve got very nice digs on the main deck, handy to the galley and lounge and one level below our expedition operations area.  I even get a mint in my pillow every evening! The full expedition team met for the first time just before supper. Victor (at right below) talked us through the sequence of dives we’ll make in the Eastern pool of the Challenger Deep during our voyage. 

I get to go first. Second to dive will be Vanessa O’Brien, a mountaineer who’s completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam (7 Summits + both poles, as has Victor). Third will be John Rost (dark shirt), who has also completed the Seven Summits. Very interesting company, to say the least!

Hafa Adai!

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That’s how you say “g’day!’ on Guam; pronounced “half-a-day”.
It took a full 24 hours, but we made it here! A very strange flying day, to say the least. The three airports we passed through are usually bustling places, so jam-packed with people you can hardly move. There were more sparrows than people inside the terminal at Honolulu today, and maybe 60 passengers aboard the Boeing 777 that took us from HNL to GUM. The longest wait upon arrival now is to clear through the health quarantine procedure. 

Westward bound!

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After months of anticipation and coronavirus uncertainty, I’m finally on my way out to Guam to meet the ship that will take me to the Marianas Trench and the sub that will take me to the bottom of the Challenger Deep. Hooray!
I’ve fit all my gear into a carry-on suitcase and knapsack, but others in our gaggle aren’t traveling as lightly, as you can see. 
The big box at left is a new sediment sampler that will be sent down on an autonomous lander. Designed for Victor by students from a Dallas area high school. How cool is that!
I’m now traveling with Victor Vescovo, the adventurer who owns the sub and our surface ship, the Deep Submergence Support Vessel Pressure Drop. Also Rob McCallum of EYOS expeditions, who’s in charge of logistics and operations for Victor. Then there’s John Rost, who has climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and is, on top of that, he’s an avid pilot and successful entrepreneur. John will join Victor on one of the dives during our leg of the e…

COVID-era travel

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Itineraries to Guam don’t usually pass through Phoenix, Arizona, but COVID-19 made it a necessary first stop this time. 
Six of our expedition party met here to be tested for the coronavirus at a laboratory in Scottsdale. We’re hunkered down at an expansive. elegant, and nearly deserted resort hotel. Shops, restaurant, fitness center, and multiple pools - all closed; housekeeping scaled back to “call if you need something.”  Everyone in our party has a serious face mask (N95 or KN95; no mere cotton fashion accessories), and our only foray off-property was to the testing lab this morning. Proof that we’re not carrying the virus will let us go directly to the ship when we arrive in Guam (the alternative is 14-days in supervised quarantine). Maintaining social distance.
No handshakes!

Over in a flash and not painful. The trick is to close your eyes. 
Tonight we’ll comandeer a table in the deserted lobby area for a group dinner, delivered by GrubHub. It’s likely to be an early evening, since w…