January 5, 2014 Slideshow

Even 700 miles at sea, you can still find tiny reminders of land on the deck of the Atlantis, such as these stowaways. This three-inch katydid stayed hidden on a seldom-used staircase, and in the hanger that houses Alvin, crickets chirp late into the night.

Perched high on the ship’s mast, Atlantis crew members Allison Heater and James Brennan fix a broken antenna mount.

Atlantis ordinary seaman Richie Barnes stands on the ship’s deck, waiting for an elevator to be deployed by a crane above him. Whenever the crane is in operation, all crew members must put on work vests and hard hats.

Members of the science team watch as an elevator containing samples from the vents below is recovered from the water.

In Atlantis’ main lab, researcher Erwan Peru prepares a solution used to test chemical sensors that will be deployed on the ocean floor. On the video screen behind him, a live feed from Jason relayed from a mile and a half below the ship shows a cluster of tubeworms at a vent site.

Inside Jason’s control van, pilot Akel Kevis-Stirling concentrates as he uses a joystick to manipulate the vehicle’s robotic arm to collect tubeworms.

To ensure that their experiments are accurate, scientists must make careful calculations ahead of time. Here, postdoctoral scientist Ileana Pérez-Rodríguez sketches out chemical ratios in her lab notebook.

The first elevator to return to the surface brought with it a wealth of samples. In this photo, marine biologist Horst Felbeck holds a tubeworm collected by Jason at the seafloor only hours before.

Back in his lab, Horst Felbeck begins a dissection of a tubeworm by cutting into the base of its tough outer tube. The incision will help him slide the fragile worm from the tube in one piece.

On researcher Nadine Le Bris’ desk sits a tiny tea strainer shaped like a yellow submarine. She insists that this isn’t a reference to the Beatles—rather, it’s an homage to the French research sub Nautile, a yellow vessel similar in size to Alvin.

A brilliant Pacific sunset creates a warm glow on the deck of the Atlantis.


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