Monday, November 15, 2004

Japan's probe can go deeper

The discovery of deep-sea bacteria useful for treatment of atopic dermatitis (Japan Times Online, June 2003) was made by a group of researchers at the state-run Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. The bacteria were extracted from soil collected by the center's remote-operated deep-sea research vehicle Kaiko from 10,897 meters below sea level in waters 300 km southwest of Guam in March 1996

"Only Japan has deep-sea probes that can submerge to 10,000 meters," said Susumu Ito, the center's director. "It is difficult to find new kinds of useful bacteria on land. But deep in the sea, a surprising amount can be found."

The Kaiko, consisting of a 5.2-meter launcher and a 3.1-meter vehicle, had the world's deepest diving capability, to a maximum 11,000 meters.

The vehicle component, which carries five television cameras and one photo camera, was lost in late May during an underwater mission at Cape Muroto off southern Shikoku.

China and Russia develop deep sea robot

SHENYANG - China and Russia have combined efforts in their upgrade of the "benthal satellite" - a deep sea carrier robot, which can operate at 7,000 meters below the surface and is expected to go into operation in 2005 report Asia Times.

"China will be able to probe complicated sea areas including deep trenches, and accelerate the pace of exploiting maritime resources," said Wang Tianran, head of the Shenyang Institute of Automation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

A Russian technician participating in the project said that in the foreseeable future, a Chinese submarine carrier robot could probe the world's deepest sea trench - the 10,000-meter Marianas Trench.

Research on the 7,000-meter deep sea robot, with a total investment of 180 million yuan (US$22.5 million), is shared by the China Shipbuilding Industrial Cooperation, the Shenyang Institute of Automation of the CAS, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Read the full article.

Drifting for funding

Maritime TV and Radio broadcasting company (Vladivostok, Russia) reports that on Tuesday, the 9th of November 2004 rescue vessel "Yuri Orlenko" towed research vessel "Professor Bogorov" to port Slavyanka. RV "Professor Bogorov" (home port Vladivostok) was drifting in the Sea of Japan for two days because of the failure of the main engine. She started drifting on Sunday, 160 nm from the port of Nahodka (Russia).

Nothing special, right? Well, at the time of the incident the crew of the RV "Professor Bogorov" were running a commercial cruise, delivering a shipment of cars from Japan. Why? In order to secure funding for future scientific expeditions. And you though you did not have money for ship time...

Budget cuts for NOS ahead

SEED magazine (Fall 2004) reports that US budget request for fiscal year 2005 proposes a $215 million (35 percent) cut in funding for the National Ocean Service, the primary US Federal agency working to protect and manage America's coastal waters. Bad news, but on a bright side - US is heading for the Moon! Yee-ha! Have a pina colada for me on a beach when you are up there, would ya.

I picked up the SEED (Science is culture) magazine by chance when I was wasting my time at some airport, and I am glad I did so. Broad in scope, smart and, well, about science AND culture. Such a freash breath among those well-endowed coveres of other journals.

BBC News: Alvin retires

All great careers come to an end and the deep-sea manned submersible Alvin goes into retirement after 40 years of remarkable work in the world's oceans. The new Alvin comes into service in 2008, bigger, better, and designed to dive even deeper. And maybe with a coffe machine.

Scientists Collect Creatures From Submarine Volcano northeast of Bay of Plenty

Scientists from New Zealand and Japan have recovered a variety of deep-sea creatures while making the first-ever dive in a submersible into the crater of a seafloor volcano northeast of Bay of Plenty.

" As we descended, we first saw thick black smoke out the windows at 1600m. This means the hydrothermal plumes are rising 50 to 100 meters above the vents in Brothers volcano. That tells us straight away that we have vigorous hydrothermal venting directly below the sub."

Part-way through a six-dive programme, the scientists have collected numerous long-neck barnacles, shrimps, limpets, tubeworms, and crabs as well as "black smoker" chimneys packed with metallic minerals from inside an active crater.

Read the complete Press Release: Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences

North Pole and the Law of the Sea

Denmark wants to claim the North Pole in hopes of finding oil and gas in the ocean floor below, upsetting other countries, including the United States, Canada and Russia, that also want a piece of the resource-rich Arctic. More delails here ...

Ukrainian RV Parshin is to sail in 2004

Научно-исследовательское судно «Владимир Паршин» вскоре выйдет в рейс
Научно-исследовательское судно «Владимир Паршин», принадлежащее Украинскому научному центру экологии моря (УкрНЦЭМ, Одесса), выйдет в рейс в начале сентября. Об этом сообщила директор центра Инесса Лоева.
Она также добавила, что рейс продолжительностью примерно 3 недели будет проходить в северо-западной части Черного моря. Научные сотрудники проведут на судне химические, гидрохимические, гидробиологические и другие исследования, необходимые для оценки степени загрязнения Черного моря.
Как сообщало ИА «Контекст-медиа (Причерноморье)», с 27 марта 2004 года «Владимир Паршин» проходил ремонт на Одесском судоремонтном заводе «Украина» с целью получения класса регистра. Доковый ремонт предполагал комплекс работ по очистке, покраске подводной части корпуса, донно-забортной арматуре, гребного вала, винта. Полный ремонт судна и освидетельствование его в Украинском морском регистре должны были завершиться 17 августа.
На ремонт «Владимира Паршина» из государственного природоохранного фонда было выделено 700 тыс. грн.
СПРАВКА. Научно-исследовательское судно «Владимир Паршин», водоизмещением 1000 т, длиной 49,9 м, построено в Финляндии в 1989 г. Его назначение - выполнение морских экологических исследований. Команда состоит из 44 человек, 20 из них - научные сотрудники. В течение последних двух лет «Владимир Паршин» простаивал из-за отсутствия средств на его ремонт и освидетельствование на класс регистра.
Информационное агентство «Контекст-медиа»

Ballard got $2 mil for ocean exploration centre!

More than $2 million promised for ocean exploration center Oct 14, 04:22 NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (AP) - University of Rhode Island professor and marine explorer Robert Ballard has ecured more than two (m) million dollars in federal and private funding for a new center at the university.

The funding is for the Inner Space Center, which Ballard says will be the ocean exploration equivalent of the NASA command center for space exploration. The Inner Space Center is a component of the Undersea Exploration Center, which will be voted on as part of a bond referendum question in the November election. In the Inner Space Center, signals from research vessels will be transmitted to U-R-I's graduate school of oceanography. That way, students, faculty and researchers will have live access to oceanographic expeditions.

Link to the full story

NOAA ship dedicated exclusively to exploration and research of our oceans

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with Coastal America and the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, provided details today on a nationwide contest for teams of students to choose a name for a newly acquired NOAA exploration ship, and develop an education project based on a proposed name.

The former USNS Capable was transferred from the Navy to NOAA in a recent ceremony in Seattle. After conversion, the ship will be the only NOAA ship dedicated exclusively to exploration and research of our oceans.

"From the beginning, the transfer of this ship represents a great value to the U.S. taxpayer and when converted, it will provide significant and long- term benefits to ocean exploration and research," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

NOAA's ocean exploration missions include mapping and characterizing the physical, biological, chemical and archaeological aspects of the ocean; developing a more thorough understanding of ocean dynamics and interactions at new levels; developing and deploying new sensors and systems to regain U.S. leadership in ocean technology; and reaching out to the public to communicate the importance of the oceans.

Despite a long and rich history of ocean exploration and discovery, relatively little is known about what the oceans contain, what the seafloor looks like, or how the oceans function. Ocean exploration has found submerged canyons, mountain ranges, volcanoes and other intriguing topographic features but even less is known about how these features interact with the forces of ocean currents to create biologically rich and diverse marine ecosystems. New discoveries are made almost every time scientist-explorers go to sea to probe the ocean depths with new tools and sensors, yet 95 percent of Earth's deep ocean remains a mystery.

NOAA press release.