26 January, 1998
Greetings from the Ross Sea! Things are going EXCELLENT down here! Tonight, all of the equipment is working! We tried the deep tow (after minor repairs) and it worked great. As for the seismic, the ASA technicians gave up on the old streamer and completely built a new one . . . by hand. They continue to amaze me with their abilities! I think they may have been skeptical about whether it would work or not, but it was just put in the water and things look very promising! Everyone is breathing a great sigh of releaf. Maybe some of the ASA people will get a good night of sleep tonight (they've been working a lot of extra hours).
In order to determine the total answer to yesterday's question about water, I went straight to Johnny (who is the Chief Engineer of the ship and a permanent member of its crew). Reverse osmosis (using an extra special filtering system like they do at McMurdo Station) is a good way to desalinate water, but it's more expensive and more work than distillation for something as small as this ship. So, we get our fresh water by distillation -- which means that salt water is boiled to separate the salt from the water. The heat to boil the seawater comes from the engines. It seems that they get a bonus out of the process -- the water is heated for distillation, and the engines are cooled (which is a good thing)!
When the water evaporates, only pure H20 evaporates . . . leaving behind all of the materials that are dissolved in the water (including the salt). Those remaining materials are released back into the sea. The water vapor is then cooled and condensed back into pure liquid water. In fact, this water is so pure that we really shouldn't drink it. As a result, they actually add chemicals at the bromide treatment plant before the water is sent out through the rst of the ship.
This ship can make up to 13,000 gallons of water per day, but we aren't making nearly that much during this cruise. Right now, we are averaging about 2,800 gallons of water per day. For one thing, we have a small number of scientists aboard. In addition, our research doesn't require the use of lots of water (and some research projects do). We do use water to wash off our core barrels, but we have a hose that squirts sea water for that so we don't have to use water that has been purified. In addition, there are lots of ways that the ship conserves water. For example, the toilets use much less water than a regular toilet, and the showers all have low-flow shower heads. The two biggest uses of water on the ship are the kitchen and the washing machines!
After the water is used, is goes down the drain . . . but where does it go from there? We actually have a wastewater treatment plant aboard the ship. All water (toilets, washing machines, dishwaters, sinks, showers, drains, etc.) goes to the treatment plant. They have something called an OmniPure System aboard the ship, which uses a transformer to create a high amount of D.C. voltage. This voltage is used to electrocute the wastewater -- which kills any harmful bacteria that may be living in it. This is especially necessary because of the sewage in the water. Once the wastewater has been treated, it is safe to release back into the ocean. There is a holding tank that keeps the treated water until there is a certain amount, and then it is discharged (about 4-5 times per day). This is a very good method of treating water before it is released. It is especially good that they don't have to use any chemicals to treat the water (like most places do). We wouldn't want to dump any chemicals into this fragile environment.
Since they are so careful about the Antarctic environment, what do you suppose happens to the trash that is produced on this ship? What about the trash from McMurdo Station? We'll look at that in tomorrow's journal!
I hope that you enjoyed all of the pictures! If you have any questions (or requests for pictures the next time), don't hesitate to write!
Until tomorrow . . . Mrs. G
Contact the TEA in the field at .
If you cannot connect through your browser, copy the TEA's e-mail address in the "To:" line of your favorite e-mail package.