WSC Juniors Project Pegasus Launch
Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Our Junior Division has been busy in recent years working on marine science projects- Read all about their latest exciting endeavor PROJECT PEGASUS below.
WHAT IS PROJECT PEGASUS?
Project Pegasus is the title of our internship with Pike Spector, a graduate student at San Diego State University (SDSU), who we met through our bathymetry project. Pike offered us the internship after seeing how motivated we were with mapping the seafloor of Windansea. The internship consisted of two parts: building an underwater ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle), and writing a grant pertaining to our project. The ROV came as an expensive kit, similar to a very complex Lego set. The building process involved lots of teamwork, as well as assembling circuit boards, solvent welding, wiring, precise measuring, soldering, and field testing. In addition, we each wrote a grant for different pieces of equipment to attach to the ROV.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT?
Four Windansea Surf Club Juniors: Jordan Schultz, Maddy Perreault, Lorenzo Villela, and Aaron Schwarzman. Windansea Member, Steve Jenner, has been a huge help with organizing the internship and Pike Spector runs our internship program.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO CONSTRUCT?
We met at SDSU’s Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory (CMIL) once a week for three months in the Spring of 2017. Our team worked diligently on the ROV to meet Pike’s deadline for his research trip to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska this summer. We will continue to modify and alter the ROV when necessary.
ANY INTERESTING DETAILS ABOUT CONSTRUCTION?
We made a few initial mistakes with the construction that taught us very quickly to, “measure twice and cut once.” Also, everyone in the group took turns writing a blog post summarizing what we learned and accomplished each meeting.
DID YOU HAVE ANY HELP OR GUIDANCE WITH THE PROJECT?
We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this project if it wasn’t for the help and support from Steve Jenner as well as the guidance and knowledge from Pike Spector.
WHY DID YOU DO IT?
We devoted ourselves to building Pegasus (the ROV) because we are interested in marine science and wanted to contribute to CMIL’s studies. With an innovative piece of equipment like Pegasus, we will be able to study many aspects of the ocean including marine life, sea floor contours, and environmental factors. Despite the challenges of building the ROV, we were determined to finish it so that we could use it to collect nearshore and offshore data around Point Loma. Pike and fellow scientists also used the ROV during a research trip to Alaska.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The ROV is like an underwater drone and is attached to a 100-meter long, neutrally buoyant tether that connects to a computer and control system above water (on a boat). This can be used to your advantage when ocean conditions are too dangerous to dive or if it’s just a simpler option to send the ROV down to collect the data. It has many features: a motor, propellers, lights, and a camera, but other features such as a Niskin bottle (water sampling tubes) can be added on to it.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Using a game controller, the ROV is able to maneuver in every direction. At first, it was difficult learning which set of controls to use to make it ascend and descend. The camera is also connected to the tether and sends live video feed to the computer for the operator to see. This is very helpful in navigating the ROV as well as being able to see what the underwater environment looks like. Depending on the type of equipment that you attach to the ROV, you can use it to collect multiple types of data all at once.
WHAT DID YOU DO WITH IT?
As soon as we finished building it, we tested the ROV in the lab to make sure it was water tight before actually deploying it in the ocean/ bay. This was a very exciting moment because we knew our hard work had paid off and that we would soon be able to launch it in the bay. Soon after the completion of Pegasus, Pike brought it to the Aleutians to assist his research team. Once our team returns this fall, we are going to start running experiments facilitated by the underwater ROV, and once completed, we will send the grants to multiple organizations.
WHAT ARE THE APPLICATIONS?
The video data collected using the existing components on the ROV can be used to create narrated videos that divers or other scientists can utilize to get a better grasp of the underwater environment of a certain location. If we were to add a Niskin bottle to the ROV, our team could take ocean water samples before and after a rain event to understand how the quality of the water is impacting ocean organisms, beach-goers, fisheries, etc. Also, if we obtain funding for a sonar unit, we could collect bathymetry data to study how underwater contours affect currents and surrounding environments.
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