Dr. Deborah Kelley: Telepresence
For this expedition out to Lost City, we tried a really different model for going to sea and that is by conducting science remotely by telepresence. So the entire science party, or pretty much the entire science party came to the University of Washington and we worked together for 10 days and communicated with the ship via satellite. So there were a lot of new things to learn in terms of how to communicate from land to sea over 4,500 miles away.
My role in this expedition was basically being a land-based chief scientist. So a lot of what I did helped plan the dives. Make sure that all the samples that got taken need to be taken. Lost City is a pretty complex environment so one of the major goals on this cruise was to get co registered samples of the biology of the rocks and the fluids. So we can really understand how life is intertwined with the rocks down there.
So one of the things that was very different about this expedition was having all the science party on land, in one room basically, and interacting with the ship remotely over satellite. So we... There's about 20, 24 scientist, that came for the 10 days included students, undergrads, grad students. And basically what we did is we set up a bunch of computers where we did active logging during the entire program. And everything we saw coming over the satellite; all the imagery we logged what we were seeing. What kind of animals that were... What the images were as they were streaming in.
I guess one of the fun things for me for this program was for this expedition was actually being able to do the live shows. I had never done them before and it took a little while to get used to but... I very much enjoyed the questions that came in from students all across the country and also the opportunity to interact with the ship and partake in some of their fun. There was a lot of kidding on the show and we always had a really fun time.
So I think one of the things I've learned on this expedition, working at sea remotely on land, is that similar to being at sea there's always changing conditions. It's very hard to predict how things will go on programs. So for me one of the biggest learning processes is just dealing with the daily change and working out your schedules. It's hard to get too set in your mind of things that you want to do and you have to be really flexible and compromising and I think that's a good life lesson to learn anyway. For me, the most exciting thing about this mission was really seeing a view of Lost City that we've never seen before. We'd been there on two different expedition using submersibles, but you never got the overview of the structures. The largest tower in Lost City is over 200 feet tall. What was very, very nice was to be able to see the eye in the sky view with Hercules and Argus sitting above it. We got to see images we've just never seen before. It gave us a very different impression of the field in some places.