Not very nice weather today, a little rough and mostly cloudy – unlike yesterday with its mostly blue skies.
Science is finished now, and some of the packing has already been done. One of the main things people are now thinking about is this evening’s quiz night organised by Terry, with a little help from Colin. Another milestone to the end of the cruise is that its the last bond today – last chance to but teeshirts, shields etc during the cruise.
Mick, the whale watcher is still out though, despite the wind, and the occaisonal rain squals and so far this morning he’s seen about ten dolphins and a black-headed gull, which is apparently quite rare for this area.
For me though, the end of the cruise is about more than just packing and quiz nights. My job involves organising all the data that has been logged and archiving it onto either tape (in the case of the 100+GB of EK-60 data) or DVD. Several copies of the data are made, with one copy going to the British Oceanographic Data Centre in Liverpool, one being kept by National Marine Facilities for around six months, and another for the scientists involved with the data, or the Principal Scientist.
One of my hobbies is amateur radio, so I thought I’d give a guided tour of all the radio and satellite gear on the vessel.
When people first see the ship (or a picture of it) one of the things they notice first is the huge dome above the bridge. This is the VSat dome, and most of the phone calls and all of the data that travel to and from the ship go through here.
There are two smaller domes to either side of the ship. On the left side of the picture is the dome for the Inmarsat B system. This is another phone system which is used as a backup for the Vsat. The calls costs pounds per minute, unlike those on the VSat which cost pennies per minute. On the right side of the picture is the dome for the Dartcom satellite image system, which is used to receive weather images from the US NOAA satellites and the Chinese Fengyun 1D satellite.
As well as the three domes there are other much smaller antennas for Inmarsat C (Telex), the various GPS navigation antennas, along with the differential antenna, which is used to increase the accuracy of GPS to around 2m. You can see some of these above the big VSat dome, and also on the left-hand side of the photo in front of the Inmarsat B dome.
There are also some large whip antennas used for MF/HF and VHF communications, and also for reception of weather FAX (WEFAX) MF/HF is rarely used these days, with the majority of the vessels long-range communications being handled by the various satellite communications systems.
NMFS Sea Systems, UK
Here is an article by Gavin Tilstone about the Ecomar cruise and its aims. ecomar_challenger_article_tilstone.pdf