Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Taylor Glacier and the trip into the UNKNOWN

The next breakthrough mission the bot had was to sonar map and photograph the glacier face, aka front, of Taylor Glacier. Taylor Glacier comes crashing into Lake Bonney in its slow trudge out to sea. No one had ever explored what was under the glacier. There could be a whole other lobe of Lake Bonney under there, or (and we were secretly hoping for this) a Kraken! It was an exploration into the unknown!

This journey required a logistically complex procedure of lowering the bot down its main ice-hole and over to another ice-hole (amazingly well-melted and hand-crafted by Peter Doran). The movement of the robot from his usual hole over to and up through another hole closer to the face of the glacier was an amazing sight to watch. After the bot rose up out of his second hole, we re-ballasted with over 200lbs of weight. This means we added weights onto him so he could sink down into the salty water at 20m below the surface and get views of the depths of the contact with Taylor Glacier. He could not do this under the power of his own thrusters because the change in fresh water to salty water in the lake is hard to get through and he just doesn't have enough power to push down. This was a phenomenal day to be around for. It was extremely exciting... the unknown. We all basically held our breath as we watched the images come in. The area below the glacier is filled with a small v-shaped cave. The bottom of the lake and the glacier meet up 15-30m back behind the entrance to this cave. Endurance went up to the entrance and spent the whole day sending out beams of sonar to get a good idea of just how far back the cave goes. No Kraken or sea-monster or third lake…. bummer. It was a long day for everyone, but very very exciting as well!
Me in front of Taylor Glacier

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