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Ocean Research


August 2015 Issue

Success for Deep Seismic Project
SAExploration Holdings, Inc. has successfully completed its first major deepwater ocean-bottom marine seismic project. The project, which was located in Southeast Asia and utilized an advanced ROV deployment method at water depths reaching 1,100 m, was completed more than a week ahead of schedule.

The consolidated effort of the vessels, data acquisition crew, and support personnel, in conjunction with the ROVs, reliable nodal recording technology and SAE’s deployment strategy, translated into high-efficiency gains and greatly improved performance throughout the life of the project.

SAE specializes in providing ocean-bottom nodal acquisition services in water depths ranging up to 3,000 m. Utilizing its deployment system, nodes connected by rope can be deployed in depths up to 1,000 m. For water depths between 1,000 and 3,000 m, the nodes are deployed utilizing ROVs. SAE’s ocean-bottom seismic acquisition services can be performed in open water or around surface or subsurface infrastructure.

Cameras Capture Images Of World War II Shipwrecks
Kongsberg Maritime’s OE14-530 3DHD video camera has produced a wealth of stunning imagery during an expedition to survey the historic World War II shipwrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and the German raider HSK Kormoran off the coast of western Australia.

The Western Australian Museum and Curtin University survey, which took place in April, also used six OE14-408E digital stills cameras on two ROVs operated by DOF Subsea.

The Sydney and Kormoran wrecks lay undiscovered in 2,500 meters of water, 20 km apart, about 200 km west of Shark Bay until 2008, when Kongsberg Maritime underwater cameras were responsible for taking the first photos of them lying on the ocean floor.

A follow-up expedition was undertaken in April this year with a more sophisticated spread of equipment to help better understand what happened during the battle to cause the destruction of both ships and the complete loss of Sydney’s 645 crew—a loss that is still, to this day, Australia’s greatest naval tragedy. Kongsberg Maritime was selected as the lead underwater camera partner for this work.

The data that were captured during the survey will form the basis of several exhibitions at the Western Australian Museum, which will feature digital 3D reconstructions of the wreckage area that can be toured digitally; an experience made possible by the use of Kongsberg Maritime cameras.

The 3D reconstruction will be predominantly created using images from the OE14-408E digital stills cameras, which feature Ethernet operation that allowed immediate transfer of the images to the surface.

As well as contributing to the museum’s exhibitions and online galleries, footage captured by the Kongsberg Maritime cameras will also be seen in a TV documentary.

OVIRS to Detect Water, Organic Materials on Asteroid
An instrument that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin for installation onto NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx.

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, instrument measures visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu that can be used to identify water and organic materials. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, built the instrument.

OVIRS, a point spectrometer, will split the light from Bennu into its component wavelengths, but over a much broader range of wavelengths. Different chemicals have unique spectral signatures by absorbing sunlight and can be identified in the reflected spectrum. The spectra provided by the instrument will help guide sample site selection.

After thorough testing with the spacecraft on the ground, the instrument will be powered on for checkout shortly after launch, with first science data collected during the Earth gravity assist in September 2017.

OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission that will return samples from an asteroid to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. It will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, and bring back to Earth a sample of at least 2.1 oz. for study. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

Study Finds Squid Can Manipulate Iridescence
The California market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) has amazing light-manipulating abilities that are detailed in new research conducted in the UC Santa Barbara lab of Daniel Morse, professor emeritus in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. While this species shares the gift of camouflage with most other cuttlefish, octopus and squid in the cephalopod family, it is also capable of activating, shuttering and directing its own iridescence in multiple ways.

The research demonstrates that the squid’s ability to “tune” its colors is correlated with the presence of specific sequences of reflectins, which are proteins unique to the light-sensing tissue of cephalopods. The findings appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

While the diverse optical behaviors of cephalopod tissues have been attributed to reflectins for almost a decade, this work shows for the first time how reflectin protein subtype structure, localization, distribution and relative abundance correlate with the squid’s optical output.

Building on the lab’s previous work, the new research details the mechanisms of the animal’s tunable (adaptive) and nontunable (static) iridocytes. Specialized cells in squid skin, iridocytes—also known as iridophores—produce color via Bragg reflection, by which light is reflected in a very regular and predictable manner.


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