Hey there! Mission 31 made it into TIME Magazine's Modern Explorers Edition! Check out the magazine at news stands or via collectors on Amazon.com. TIME's online coverage here.
Using cutting edge technology not really meant for the ocean was tricky! I'm the one filming upside down. It was easier to see the screen that way (and oddly comfortable underwater). Our photography will be featured in an art exhibit at MIT.
"Thanks to a couple of engineers at MIT, we were able to use a prototype camera called the Edgertronic to capture slow-motion video... And that particular camera gives us an insight into what fairly common animals do but we can't even see it in the blink of an eye. ... It gives us an insight into some of the animals that we were sitting right next to for 31 days and never normally would have paid attention to, such as hermit crabs."
"Using a cutting-edge piece of technology that's not really meant for the oceans is not always easy. We sometimes had to put the camera upside down, cordon it back to the lab, and actually man the trigger from the lab itself. But what this gives us is the foresight to look at and analyze in scientific and engineering terms some of the most amazing behavior that the human eye just can't pick up, such as this manta shrimp trying to catch its prey, within about .3 seconds. That punch is as strong as a .22 caliber bullet, and if you ever try to catch a bullet in mid-flight with your eye, impossible. But now we can see things such as these Christmas tree worms pulling in and fanning out in a way that the eye just can't capture, or in this case, a fish throwing up grains of sand. This is an actual sailfin goby, and if you look at it in real time, it actually doesn't even show its fanning motion because it's so quick."
"What I learned from spending 31 days underwater" was the title of Fabien Cousteau's TED talk this month in Rio de Janeiro about Mission 31. My focus on the mission, high speed filming with the Edgertronic camera, is featured from 7:00-9:04. Click here to watch!
From the transcript:
Fabien summarizes the mission's goals and accomplishments, and stresses the need for further exploration of the oceans.
For more info, check out my previous posts about working with the Edgertronic.
AND, Photo Art EXHIBIT OPENING SOON!
I'm also excited to say the KickStarter campaign to fund an exhibit of the underwater slow motion photography we shot on the Edgertronic from Mission 31 was a great success! Those near Boston are welcome to attend the opening on the evening of January 4th in MIT's Wiesner Art Gallery. Just shoot me a message for the details.
On July 2nd I returned to land after living 15 days underwater with Fabien Cousteau (who spent 31 days underwater!) and his amazing team. All my blog posts from the mission are on this site, starting from late-spring visits to Northeastern's Marine Science facility at beautiful Nahant and preparations at MIT, to day one of training, to M31 splash down and then splash up.
MIT's Mechanical Engineering Department just produced this video with the article: Undersea living: Alumna joins Cousteau mission. "What’s it like living on the bottom of the ocean for more than two weeks? Nicer than you might think, according to Grace Young ."
Some highlights from the blog:
Some more highlights:
On our last full day underwater -- Day 31 of Mission 31 -- we dove in the morning and then started decompression. I wrote about my last hot chocolate by the magnificent Aquarius viewport in this blog post, and referred to Brain Helmuth's excellent article on The Science (and Math) of Decompression and fellow aquanaut Adam Zenone's post on his Aquarius decompression experience during the first half of the mission.
Decompression: 18 Hours
During decompression, an 18 hour process in total, they seal the door on the Aquarius wet porch; it has a nice greasy O-ring seal that I've accidentally brushed up against a few times throughout the mission. We started decompression by breathing pure oxygen for three sets of 20 minutes, with 5 minuets rest in between. During this time, we were in our bunks and watched Jacques Cousteau's World Without Sun, a documentary film about Jacques's undersea mission Conshelf II attempting to live and work on the seafloor that inspired Mission 31. The New York Times gave the film this great review in 1964! Fabien said in the press conference afterward that it was interesting to notice similarities between the way they did things on Conshelf II and the way we did some things on this mission. But he also noted that we had access to technology that Jacques could only dream about fifty years ago. While we lay there with the masks, dive medical technician Jason joined us in the Aquarius habitat to administer the oxygen. He'd be the only one not breathing O2 as a safety precaution in case all of us on the oxygen suffered complications.
During the second stage of our decompression, the inside pressure of Aquarius lowered from 2.5 atmospheres to 1 atmosphere, over the course of these 14 hours. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I slept almost through the entire process. I was exhausted and I guess my body just needed 12 hours of sleep... Anyhow, apparently everyone else had dinner as usual and watched the fish out the window. There was no shark-grouper-barracuda feeding frenzy happening outside the window, unlike during the first decompression.
SPLASH UP, Day 32 Technically (due to Deco)
Time flew by during our last morning in the habitat. We all felt rushed. I woke up at 7 AM, and immediately set up the color Edgertronic camera, looking at fish feeding outside the port window. I figured it was my last opportunity to do so! I had to pack up within a half hour though, to help clean and prepare the habitat for re-compression. Shortly after we reached regular atmospheric pressure, the technicians then re-pressurized the habitat to 2.5 atmospheres over a half hour or so. Since we were no longer saturated, this was now like a surface dive for us, and so no longer being saturated, our bottom time was limited. Tom Potts and Carter from the Navy greeted us at the wet porch to escort us to the surface. We pulled on our SCUBA gear in the water and ascended to the surface. My brain didn't really have time to process. With nine divers following one ascent line, I was mostly focused on trying not to kick anyone in the head with my fins. Before I knew it, my head popped above the water. The first thing I noticed was a quad-copter flying above, filming areal shots of the splash up. That's it! We're surface dwellers again!
WELCOME BACK! BUT FIRST, a PRESS CONFERENCE
Then, the Splash Up Party
Right now, I'm in the Miami airport headed back to Boston for 4th of July weekend with friends (celebrating by the water!). Then, mid-next week I go to Aberdeen, Scotland, to start my internship in a company specializing in deep sea sonar imaging. I will attend the OCEANS'14 conference in mid-September, and then I start my PhD studies at Oxford University in the fall! By early 2015, you may see a documentary film in IMAX theaters about Mission 31. I feel like our work with Mission 31 in raising ocean awareness and processing the immense amount of scientific data we gathered has just begun, and that's exciting.
Throwback Thursday, Mission 31: I remember My Undersea Graduation (Mission Day 6).
My last underwater images while officially on Mission 31 (tear). Credit Fabien Cousteau.
This morning we went on an early dive and didn't need to swim far. Right below the wet porch, a school of fish swam and looped around and around sixteen feeding grouper. A nurse shark and groups of snapper joined the feeding frenzy, as Matt, Liz and I watched, in the middle of the action. It was our last dive of Mission 31. It's crazy how quickly time has passed!
This afternoon we start decompression. That's when the pressure inside the habitat changes over the course of 18 hours, from 2.5 atmospheres to 1 atmosphere. Brain Helmuth, the Mission 31 science advisor from Northeastern, just wrote The Science (and Math) of Decompression, and fellow aquanaut Adam Zenone wrote about his decompression experience from the first half of the mission. By 7 AM tomorrow, our bodies will have slowly acclimated to surface pressure, and we'll return to the surface, where we'll celebrate "splash-up."
An overview of Mission 31 science thanks to Earth Island Journal: 31-Day Undersea Mission has Been a Boon for Marine Scientists; A young researcher talks about Fabien Cousteau's underwater living experiment.
Grace is an MIT ocean engineer, aquanaut, and scientist with Cousteau's Mission 31. She's currently a PhD student at University of Oxford and scientist for the Pisces VI deep sea submarine.