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under the sea
How do underwater explorers do their work? After all, most of the ships they seek to investigate lie hundreds, if not thousands of feet under the sea. Robert Ballard's research has relied primarily on two remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) systems: Jason/Medea, and ARGO-II.

Jason/Medea
Jason/Medea is a dual vehicle ROV system, with Medea serving as a wide

Jason.   Credit
area survey vehicle linked to Jason that functions as a precision multi-sensory imaging and sampling platform. Both Medea and Jason are designed to operate to a maximum depth of 6,000 m; they can be operated from a variety of research or commercial vessels. Jason is connected to Medea by a neutrally buoyant cable 15 mm (0.60") in diameter and approximately 100 meters long. Like the tow cable, it also uses three copper conductors and three single mode optical fibers, but uses Spectra fibers to provide strength while reducing size and weight. The cable has a working strength that will support a 1,300 kg load (3,000 lb.) and the breaking strength corresponds to a 5,400 kg load (12,000 lb.). Medea weighs 800 pounds in water and is maneuvered by controlling the surface ship's position within a dynamic positioning reference frame.

Jason is designed for detailed survey and sampling tasks that require a high degree of maneuverability. It weighs about 1,000 kg in air, and is neutrally buoyant at depth. The vehicle is equipped with seven brushless D.C. thrusters designed to provide a force in any of the Jason's axes. Both Medea and Jason have been designed to be superior real time optical imaging platforms with high quality cameras and lighting. The vehicles work together to provide lighting for each other in a fashion not commonly available in other submersible systems. Medea is configured with a 1-chip color camera and a silicon intensified target (SIT) black & white camera for terrain identification and visual location of Jason when both are operating.

ARGO-II
ARGO-II is a near-bottom towed vehicle

Argo II.   Credit
(towed at altitudes of ~3-15 m above the seafloor) designed to operate to depths of 6,000 m, utilizing a fiber optic tether to downlink power and controls to various subsystems and data sensors and uplink digital data in both image format and as data-streams.
 
Jason Specifications
GENERAL
Depth Capability6,000 meters
Umbilical35 meters, 18 mm diameter, neutrally buoyant
Size2.2m (L), 1.2m (H), 1.1m (W)
Weight2,000 kg in air (approx.)
Maximum Speed1.0 knot forward, 0.5 knot lateral, 1 knot vertical
IMAGING
VideoTwo surface-selectable channels from the following:
- One single-CCD-chip color
- One three-CCD-chip color
- One single-CCD-chip black and white, aft looking
Still Camera35mm, 400 frames with either 16mm or 28mm lens
Electronic CameraMarquest Model 9100 camera
LightingOne 200 watt-second strobe
One 300 or 600 watt-second strobe
Three 250 watt incandescent lamps
Two 400 watt HMI lights
*Other cameras available upon request -- contact DSG*
STANDARD SENSORS AND EQUIPMENT
AttitudeTwo-axis clinometer, 0.1 degree resolution
HeadingFlux-gate compass, 0.1 degree resolution
Gimballed gyro, 0.1 degree resolution
Pressure DepthBulk semiconductor strain gauge, <1 m resolution
Altitude120 kHz updating at 2 Hz, 33 meters range, 0.1 m resolution
NavigationLong base line responder or relay transmitter/receiver
7-12 kHz vehicle powered or battery operated for emergency location
ManipulatorOne 6 degree of freedom electric powered, maximum lift of 15 kg at .5 meters
PropulsionSeven brushless DC thrusters providing the following thrust:
- fore 260N (120 lbf)
- aft
- lateral 200N (45 lbf)
- vertical 300N (135 lbf)
SonarSImagenex 855 scanning sonar with forward imaging or profiling head avaialble
SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT SUPPORT
AnalogA/D capability available
DigitalSix RS-232 (422 available) 9.6 kbaud bidirectional data channels
Higher speed links available
PowerFive 500 watt 120 vdc fused outputs
VideoOne additional input
One 6 Mhz with 0-20,000 kHz audio, one 8 Mhz no audio
Payload50 kg

Medea Specifications
GENERAL
Depth Capability6,000 meters
Umbilical8,000 meters of 17 mm steel armored electro-optical cable based on UNOLS standard; 18,000 kg maximum load
Size2.3 m (L), 1.5 m (H), 1 m (W)
Weight310 kg in air (approx.)
Maximum Tow Speed1 knot
IMAGING
Video CamerasOne surface selectable channel from the following cameras:
- One single CCD chip color
- One Silicon Intensified Target (SIT) black and white
Still Cameras35 mm, 400 frames with either 16 mm or 28 mm lens
LightingTwo 200 watt second strobes
Four 250 watt incandescent lamps
STANDARD SENSORS
HeadingFlux-gate compass, 0.1 degree resolution
Pressure DepthBulk semiconductor strain gauge, <1 m resolution
Altitude120 kHz updating at 1 Hz, 300 meter range, ~1 meter resolution
NavigationLong baseline responder or relay transmitter/receiver
7-12 kHz vehicle powered or battery operated for emergency location
SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTATION SUPPORT
AnalogA/D capability available
DigitalOne RS-232 (422 available) 9.6 kbaud bidirectional data channel
PowerOne 500 watt, 120 vdc fused output

ARGO-II Specifications
GENERAL
Depth Capability6,000 meters
Umbilical9,000 meters of 17 mm steel armored electro-optical based on UNOLS standard; 18,000 kg maximum load
Size4.6 m (L), 1.1 m (H), 1.1 m (W)
Weight2,100 kg in air (approx.)
Maximum Tow Speed0.5 knot
IMAGING
Video CameraTwo surface selectable channels from the following cameras:
-One single CCD chip color
-One SIT black and white, forward or down-looking
Still Camera35 mm, 750 frames with either 16 mm or 28 mm lens
Electronic CameraMarquest Model 9100 camera
Lighting1,500 watts of incandescent switched lighting
Four 200 watt/sec strobes; or
One 300 or 600 watt/sec strobe
Two 400 watt HMI lights
STANDARD SENSORS
AttitudeTwo-axis clinometer, 0.1 degree resolution
HeadingFlux-gate compass, 0.1 degree resolution
Gimballed gyro, 0.1 degree resolution
Pressure DepthBulk semiconductor strain gauge, <1 m resolution
Altitude120 kHz updating at 2 Hz, 33 meters range, 0.1 m resolution
NavigationLong base line responder or relay transmitter/receiver
7-12 kHz vehicle powered or battery operated for emergency location
PropulsionTwo brushless DC thrusters fore and aft provide heading control
SonarImagenex 855 scanning sonar with forward imaging or profiling head avaialble
SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTATION SUPPORT
AnalogA/D capability available
DigitalSix RS-232 (422 available) 9.6 kbaud bidirectional data channels
Higher speed links available
PowerFive 500 watt 120 vdc fused outputs
VideoThree additional inputs
Fiber opticsOne single-mode fiber (uplink only)


Courtesy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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