A new stage of seafloor exploration has begun at WHOIs Deep Submergence
Laboratory with the debut of the Jason II remotely operated vehicle
(ROV). Jason II is a precision, multi-sensory imaging and sampling
platform that gives researchers a virtual presence in the deep ocean at
water depths of up to 6,500 meters...a robotic platform to gather
observations and conduct experiments from some of the most remote
reaches of the planet.
The new ROV succeeds the original Jason, which spent the past decade
showing scientists a new way to visit and sample the seafloor. In more
than 30 cruises, Jason helped prove the value and utility of ROVs,
allowing scientists to explore the deep without leaving the deck of a
ship -- or in some cases, the comfort of their shore-based laboratories.
As the next generation of robotic underwater vehicle, Jason II goes
deeper with more maneuverability and dexterity and vastly improved
payload and power. Jason II has two spacially corresondant hydraulic
manipulator arms, which reach twice as far and lift five times as much
as the one arm on the original ROV. State-of-the-art communications
systems - including fiber-optic cables and the ability to use a SeaNet
wireless connection from its support vessel to the Internet - allow data
to be shared and visualized remotely and in near-real time. And a more
robust design allows Jason to carry more equipment, to gather more
samples, to supply much more power to the instruments, and to do all of
it at twice the speed of the older vehicle.
In September 2002, Jason II and its operators executed their first
science mission, playing a key role in the Life in Extreme Environments
(LEXEN) 2002 cruise. Researchers used Jason to deploy and retrieve
several experiments to study the microbes living within oceanic crust
and the environmental conditions that support such life.
W.M. Keck Foundation
The National Science Foundation
Office of Naval Research