Greetings from the Arctic

Coast Guard Cutter Healy departed Dutch Harbor, Alaska, last week on its Arctic West Summer deployment. The cutter is on a five-week mission with 80 Coasties and 50 scientists conducting a wide range of research activities. Healy provides more than 4,200 square feet of scientific laboratory space, numerous electronic sensor systems, oceanographic winches and is designed to break 4 and a half feet of ice continuously at three knots and can operate in temperatures as low as -50 degrees F.

This post comes to us from Ensign Emily Kehrt, HEALY’s Public Affairs Officer. You can read more from Ensign Kehrt in her updates here.


Photo by Luke Trusel and coutesy of NASA's Arctic Voyage 2010 blog.

Greetings from the Arctic.

We’re in the Chukchi Sea right now, conducting a series of science stations.

Each station varies a little bit, but we usually lower a rosette of bottles that collect water at different depths and measure its conductivity and temperature. We also sample the ocean bottom (we’re only in about 50m of water) using a technique called a Van Veen Grab and we measure the amount of light coming through the atmosphere and being reflected off the water, as well as the amount of light in the water. The other day, we conducted an on-ice station, putting scientists on the ice so they could take core samples of the ice.

With a science party this large (we’re about at our maximum capacity for embarked scientists), we’re still all getting to know each other. The Coast Guard Marine Science Division onboard has been exceptionally busy, helping the scientists operate all of HEALY’s science equipment. The MSTs stand 12-hour watches, ensuring that the science party has 24/7 access to their assistance.

Four members of the sea ice team and two Coast Guardsmen ventured out onto the sea ice. (Photo by Haley Smith Kingsland and courtesy of NASA's Arctic Voyage 2010 blog)

Deck Division had been very busy as well. They are launching and recovering our Arctic Survey Boat (ASB) several times a day, acting as coxswain and crewmembers on the ASB, and accompanying science personnel for safety when they are on ice. The Officer of the Days onboard have been working hard setting HEALY up perfectly for science stations – the multiple experiments we conduct at each station call for very specific and sometimes seemingly conflicting parameters, from the location of the sun in the sky, to the direction of the wind and current, to the number of shaft turns we can use.

There are two bloggers embarked with the science party, Haley Kingsland and Karen Young. Haley’s blog is the official NASA blog and Karen’s can be found here, here and here.

I’ll be writing in more as the mission continues.

From the Chukchi Sea,
Ensign Emily Kehrt

Tags: , , , , ,