The moment all of us on board the RRS Discovery have been waiting for! The first two instruments, an ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) and a magnetometer (OBMT), have been recovered from deep down the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean. Everyone is excited and in good spirits, cheering at each step, from initial communication with the instrument, confirmation of its rising, getting a visual of the instrument at the surface, and finally, seeing it back on deck! The first station is always tricky as the ships acoustics get tuned to communicate with the instruments. There were quite a few tense moments when the techs switched between different ship based transducers, dunking transducers and acoustic boxes to establish communication with the seismometer and the magnetometer. While the instruments were rising from the bottom of the ocean, the techs got to work patching their acoustic box directly to the ships transducer, by-passing other patches to the working labs. This was done to reduce noise and signal degradation. The instruments were finally back on deck at 23:58 hours.
Despite many of us having been on similar expeditions before, it is always a sigh of relief to see an instrument being recovered. Each instrument is literally left at the bottom of the ocean with no connection to the surface and operating on its own batteries for an entire year. So many things could go wrong that can result in a failure, such as problems with the electrical battery, mass-release, buoyancy issues, a wrong position, integrity of the structure, or simply the station is lost somewhere beyond our communication range!
Next, 76 more instruments to be picked up! While we transit for 7 hours to reach our next station, many of us are off for a well-deserved rest, while a few stay on night watch.