January 2, 2014 Slideshow

Graduate students Xi Wei and Ruby Ponnudarai discuss their sampling methods on Atlantis’ deck while looking out over the water.

Lab technician Kerry McCulloch inserts a piston into one of Jeff Seewald’s Isobaric Gas-Tight (IGT) samplers. These devices will allow the researchers to pull microbes and fluids from the vent and maintain them at deep-sea pressures as they come up to the surface.

Graduate student Miriam Sollich keeps a close eye on the pressure of a nitrogen tank she’s using to prepare Jeff Seewald’s IGT samplers.

During a presentation to the scientific team, microbial biologist Costa Vetriani gives an overview of the bacterial species living at the vents he’ll study on this expedition.

Jason expedition leader Tito Collasius sports his trademark hard hat during the vehicle’s first deployment.

Where Jason goes, so does a full workshop of tools and spare parts. Using these, engineers and technicians can repair almost any problem with the vehicle or create special adapters and brackets to accommodate scientific equipment.

Powerful robotic “hands” like this one will allow Jason’s pilots to deploy sampling devices at the vent sites on the seafloor.

Jason electrical technician Chris Lathan (far left) and expedition leader Tito Collasius (middle left) adjust levels of hydraulic oil in the vehicle’s reservoirs just before deployment.

Two common sights during an early-morning Jason deployment: a mug of coffee and a “remove before flight” tag. Tags like this one mark dozens of safety devices that must be removed before the vehicle can be lowered into the water.

A powerful crane lifts Jason over Atlantis’ railing during the remotely operated vehicle’s first launch of the expedition. (Photo by Chris Morgan)

In the Jason control room, a wall of video screens lets pilots see what’s happening near the vehicle as it approaches the ocean floor. The circular object shown on this screen, a plastic bucket lid called “marker F,” identifies this spot as Crab Spa. Also visible are pale crabs and, at left, tubeworms and mussels.


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