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Author Topic: NIKU IX  (Read 27594 times)

Andrew M McKenna

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NIKU IX
« on: June 19, 2017, 06:49:59 PM »

TIGHARs et al.

Well folks, I and several other TIGHARs are off to Nikumaroro this week for another round of exploration and searching.  This trip is being conducted in conjunction with Betchart Expeditions which is a little bit different than past expeditions, but the way I see it is that we have to take advantage of any opportunity to get out there that presents itself.  In a way, I think that the larger group may provide some benefits in that we increase the number of man hours per day on the island, which helps make up for the short duration of the visit - about 8 days.

The TIGHAR researchers / veterans going this year include myself and
Tom King
Dawn Johnson
John Clauss
Kenton Spading
Joe Cerniglia
Tom and Maria Roberts
Art Rypinski

There are also several folks who were on the Betchart expedition in 2015 that overlapped with Niku VIII that are going back again this year, so we have a pretty good core of experience TIGHARs participating.

Tom King, with Tom Roberts and Art Rypinski assisting, will be leading several shore based projects over the days we'll be at Niku including work at the NW tip, Village, and the 7 Site.  Kenton Spading will be leading work projects in Aukairame near the Baureke passage.  Joe Cerniglia will be doing some bottle research in the village.  John Clauss will be working water based projects including some metal detecting in and around the Tatiman Passage, some light ROV work with an Open ROV unit, and I'll be working with folks who want to dive some targets on the reef that we'd like to explore further.  We will also be assisting some divers from Woods Hole to locate, recover, and replace some sensors they placed several years ago.

There are many, many details that have gone into the planning of this expedition that I'm not going to bother you all with, but suffice it to say that we're going to do our best to deploy the best technology available (including some new and different search techniques) to us on the targets we think are the most interesting given the amount of time we have available.  There is never enough time, resources, or technology available, but we do the best job that we can in a very tough location. 

If we weren't optimistic that we'll discover something that advances the project, we wouldn't go.  While we can hope for a fantastic conclusive discovery, usually we don't know what it is that has been discovered until after we get it back to the US and analyze what it is and how it might be related.

I'm going to try to provide Ric with daily updates via Sat Phone to post on the TIGHAR website, or maybe down thread in this topic, so look for those to start later in the week.  I and several others are leaving tonight for Fiji as an advance team, and we'll have internet connectivity for the next couple of days until the boat sails and we get out of range.

I'm looking forward to this expedition and the results it will provide.  Nikumaroro is truly a magical place, here's hoping it reveals more of its secrets to us this time.

Thanks to all of you for your support.

LTM

Andrew
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Friend Weller

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 09:36:37 PM »

Andrew (and Tom and everyone!)

Best of luck!
Friend
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2017, 07:12:29 AM »

It feels more than a bit strange to be sitting this one out, but I have complete faith in Andrew and John to carry out the underwater work that recent research and analysis suggests represents the best chance of finding surviving pieces of the Electra.  There is also always the chance that important new evidence will turn up on land.
As Andrew says, Niku is a difficult place. The sweltering, salty environment eats technology and sea conditions can make the simple act of moving people to and from the island harrowing.  As leader of eleven TIGHAR trips over the past 28 years, my first priority has always been been to bring everyone home in one piece - and through a combination of careful team selection, discipline, caution, and pure dumb luck - I have managed to do that.  I sincerely hope the Betchart trip can maintain that record.  I wish them fair winds and following seas.
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Gloria Walker Burger

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 07:46:50 PM »

Good luck Andrew and all! I wish you good finds and low temperatures! I know many have already looked with no luck, but I still say Look At The Trees! I feel so sure AE would have carved her name/initials in a tree. Great success!
Gloria
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 09:25:37 PM »

Thanks Gloria Ric, and Friend,

Whenever we go and look, we always have good luck.  It's good luck just to make it out to Nikumaroro.  Maybe not as much as we'd like, but good luck nonetheless.

We, the advance team has arrived in Nadi Fiji and are working through our jet lag.  Some folks are working last minute errands, visits to Govt and airline offices in advance of the arrival of the rest of the participants, and talking a lot about what we're about to try to accomplish.  I hope we can share some really interesting details soon.

Later this afternoon, after it cools off a bit, John Clauss and I will be unpacking and testing the ROV that Walt Holm and Open ROV loaned us for this trip. 

https://www.openrov.com/products/trident/

We figured we should try to learn how to drive the thing before we attempt to teach others how to do it.  The hotel staff have no idea of what's about to hit their pool....  shhhhhh

I'll try to post a few photos while we're still in range of the internet.

Andrew
« Last Edit: June 20, 2017, 09:55:36 PM by Andrew M McKenna »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 10:00:18 AM »

We've been prohibited from talking about this until now.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/amelia-earhart-island-dogs/
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Bill Mangus

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 12:30:26 PM »

Make them Tighar members!

Well done!!  Hope they get a chance to sniff around the cairn found 2 years ago.  Got a feeling. . . .
Bill Mangus
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« Last Edit: June 21, 2017, 02:07:04 PM by Bill Mangus »
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Alfred Hendrickson

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 02:04:38 PM »

Best of luck to all!
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2017, 03:24:15 PM »

We've been prohibited from talking about this until now.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/amelia-earhart-island-dogs/
For those who may be highly skeptical that such forensic canines can discover human remains from decades past in a harsh environment such as Nikumaroro presents, it might be interesting to let the border collies Berkeley, Piper, Marcy, and Kayle explore around the area in the Aukaraime region where the Gilbertese infant grave was discovered on the Niku I expedition in 1989 and excavated during the Niku II expedition in 1991.
LTM,

Bruce
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2017, 03:58:18 PM »

All

Bula (hello) from Fiji

Negotiations with Fiji and Kiribati to obtain all the right permits and permissions to brings dogs into these countries went right down to the last minute wire, and Nat Geo didn't want to put out any press until they were sure all the boobies were lined up.  Thankfully, it all got straightened out just a few days ago, and the pooches are a go, business class from LAX to Fiji nonetheless.

There are several test projects we're going to put the dogs through before taking them to the 7 site so there should be ample opportunity for them to demonstrate their talents.  Should be interesting to say the least. 

We've deployed lots of different technologies at Nikumaroro over the years, some of which worked well - KAP photography and pneumatic loppers for example - and some of which were utterly defeated by the Island Goddess Nei Manganibuka such as the ROV in 2015 or the ground penetrating radar unit in 2010.  I'm hoping the dogs will prove effective, at least they don't have motherboards to fail.  We'll see how the Niku environment treats them.

I think this is going to be a really fascinating aspect of the trip, unfortunately I'll be occupied with water and underwater based activities much of the time.  Update on that will come shortly with additional interesting things we're planning.

Andrew
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2017, 05:04:07 PM »

Here is John Clauss testing the ROV in the hotel pool.  They didn't seem to mind...

Did have some very curious bystanders watching.  Everyone says "Wow! That is really cool!"

amck
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Gloria Walker Burger

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2017, 05:12:47 PM »

This is so exciting! Good luck and good sniffing to Berkeley, Piper, Marcy, and Kayle! Looking forward to your posts Andrew!
Gloria
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Brian Tannahill

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2017, 09:08:04 PM »

I was curious about how the ROV propels itself.  This YouTube video has some good information. 

The info on the Trident model starts at 2:55.

If you look at the third photo in Andrew's post (two posts up), you can see that the ROV has three propulsion units (I would call them screws, but that's probably not the correct term).  The two on the edge are for forward thrust, and the one in the middle controls "altitude" -- sends the ROV up or down.

Andrew or John, can you post an image of what the controls look like? 

For anyone else who's interested in the technical details of the ROV, they are here.  In brief, the ROV is just over 16 x 8 x 3.3 inches, and weighs 3.4 kg.  Its operating depth is 100 meters, the tether length is 100 meters (can this be extended?), and the tether itself is kevlar-reinforced and has a breaking strength of 100 kg.  Nominal runtime is 3 to 4 hours, and the battery recharges in 1.5 to 3 hours.

The speed is 2 meters per second, about the same as Michael Phelps.  That's impressive.
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2017, 09:36:30 PM »


Andrew or John, can you post an image of what the controls look like? 


These photos show the controller in John's hands, and some close ups. 

It is an Android tablet with a game controller that attaches around the tablet.  The game controller talks to the tablet via Bluetooth, and the tablet talks to the ROV via a wireless router at the dry end of the tether.

When operating the ROV, you see the image on the tablet of what the ROV is seeing out the front camera of the unit.

And yes, it can be very quick.  Hard to control at high speed unless you've had a lot of practice, which is something we don't have.  Luckily we can dial down the speed settings and operate in slow motion, so to speak.

Andrew
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Brian Tannahill

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Re: NIKU IX
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2017, 09:55:35 PM »

Now I'm curious about logistics.

The ROV needs to be recharged after about 3 hours.  Do you have a way to charge it on the island, or do you have to go back to the ship for that?  Seems like getting back and forth from the ship to the island involves a fair amount of effort, so I'm wondering how that will work.
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