Principal Investigator: Saul Rosser, ARB/UNCW
Saturation: April 20 — 23
This first Aquarius saturation mission for 2010 will be a combination of staff training and a "shakedown dive" for the habitat and Life Support Buoy (LSB), following maintenance on all the topside and underwater support equipment. This involves reinstalling and testing all the equipment that make up the complete underwater habitat system, as well as its wireless link to the shore-based Watch Desk. Once all checklists and pre-mission tests are performed, a short saturation dive will be conducted to fully test the habitat systems for the longer 10-14 day missions to follow. During this mission, hands-on training is provided in a setting that does not have the distractions of a typical science mission, with staffing made up of a senior habitat technician and three other staff "in-training." While the Center makes extensive use of manuals and other training documents, there is only so much that can be learned before actual real-time experience is required. We run training missions as full saturations, but they are usually shorter duration. Full decompression is required and is an important part of the training exercise, with staff taking turns "driving the habitat" during the 16.5 hour decompression required before surfacing.
During this mission, staff will not only train on existing gas, electrical, and computer/video/electronic systems, but they will conduct outside maintenance and cleaning of habitat systems. This training period also provides topside personnel an opportunity to train on support diving and watch desk procedures as well as emergency response protocols without the need to support outside participants.