February 5, 2011

Alvin Cam

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

The Alvin Deep-Sea Submersible, Image taken from here.

The Alvin Cam may not be as cute as the Panda Cam, but as deep-sea submersibles go I think that Alvin is actually pretty adorable. Plus, someone has placed a cute stuffed animal dog with a hard hat in front of the camera.

The Alvin Cam monitors the upgrade of Alvin, a deep-sea submersible that has been taking humans deep in the world’s oceans since 1964. This makes Alvin the longest-operating deep-sea submersible with over 4,600 dives! Alvin is owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), where I am a graduate student.

Alvin is long overdue for an upgrade. The National Science Foundation is now funding a multimillion dollar upgrade that will install a larger sphere, more view portals, and other improvements. The upgrade will enhance Alvin’s capabilities and also make long dives more comfortable.

Over the next year or so, you can watch the Alvin upgrade live by tuning into the Alvin Cam. If you see a really neat event happening on the Alvin Cam, take a screenshot and email it to me at georneysblog (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll post good screenshots on this blog. If you send a really great screenshot, I’ll reward you with a WHOI-themed prize*. 

Read more about Alvin and the upgrade here and here and here.

I am particularly excited about the ongoing upgrade because my advisor is the PI (Principal Investigator, aka “the boss”) in charge of the upgrade. The upgrade certainly keeps my advisor busy! Remarkably, she still makes time for me amidst meetings with the Navy and engineers as well as many other obligations. My thesis seems very insignificant compared with the Alvin upgrade, so I feel very fortunate that my advisor makes so much time for me. She is a remarkable woman whom I admire very much.

Finally, here’s a really neat time-lapse video of Alvin being disassembled during a routine maintenance overhaul in 2005: Alvin Disassembly Movie.

*Don’t get too excited yet… might just be a WHOI pencil, though I’ll keep my eyes open for good WHOI swag.