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  • richardmitnick 1:29 pm on June 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Canyon deep, , , , , RV Investigator, sea-mountain high: using echoes to map ocean depths", Sea-mountaineering in the murky ocean depths, The Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM) team go about uncovering the seafloor’s mysteries.   

    From CSIROscope: “Canyon deep, sea-mountain high: using echoes to map ocean depths” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    25 June 2020
    Chris Berry
    Phil Vandenbossche
    Chris Gerbing

    The ocean depths hold many secrets. They’re also one of the planet’s final frontiers for discovery. Great undersea mountain ranges and enormous canyons hide clues about our planet, its history and how it works. The deep sea even holds clues to our own past through the time capsules of ancient shipwrecks.

    We use our research vessel RV Investigator, with its array of specialised and sophisticated scientific equipment, to peer into the ocean depths and uncover these well-hidden secrets.

    RV Investigator Australia. CSIRO

    Echoes from the ocean depths

    Aboard RV Investigator, the Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM) team go about uncovering the seafloor’s mysteries. They utilise highly specialised sonar equipment. The sonar equipment ‘pings’ sound into the depths. It then waits for these sounds to echo back from the seabed. It’s like how a bat uses sound waves and echoes to navigate in the dark – a natural skill called echolocation.

    The different instruments and the different frequency of sounds shed light on an otherwise dark and silent world. You might have already learned about our machines that go ping from our RV Investigator voyage down the East Australian Current.

    1
    Inside the operations room onboard RV Investigator.

    From ‘ping’ to product

    The GSM team carefully monitor the ship’s sonar data throughout all its voyages. From the cold and windy Southern Ocean to the sweltering tropics and the Great Barrier Reef.

    Our sonar gear is always on. So as RV Investigator covers vast tracts of ocean, huge amounts of data are gathered. This data needs to be stored and interpreted by the technical and research teams on the ship. But it is used in many ways. One of the most important is to create highly detailed 3D maps of the seabed.

    Sea-mountaineering in the murky ocean depths

    Ascending from 5000 metres below the ocean is the Zeehan Seamount. It was recently mapped by the RV Investigator and stands 2500 metres above the seabed. It’s also part of the Tasmantid Seamount chain in the northern part of the Tasman Sea.

    There are more than 14,200 seamounts scattered across the world’s oceans. Seamounts are known to form over mantle plumes, or ‘hotspots’. They are extra hot parts of the Earth’s inner layers (mantle). As a result, these ‘hotspots’ are sometimes able to push through the outer surface (crust) of the Earth where the molten rock accumulates. And, in some cases, form seamounts.

    Chains of seamounts form when the Earth’s outer surface, or tectonic plates, move over these ‘hotspots’. And they create not just one, but a series of undersea mountains. To piece together the story of these seamounts and understand more about their formation, the GSM team use 3D maps. The team combines its maps with a host of other datasets. This includes what the seabed is made of and what lies beneath it.

    3
    This is a 3D view of Zeehan (left) and Heemskirk (right) Seamounts. Scientists on board RV Investigator in 2018 mapped them.

    These datasets are like parts of a jigsaw, which help scientists piece together the mysteries of our planet and all its land and sea formations. By understanding these formations and the processes that formed them, we can better predict the future of our planet.

    We go deep

    We’ve pulled together some of the recent geophysical survey data collected from voyages around Australia to show you how we map the ocean floor. This web page highlights some fundamentals of seamounts, submarine canyons, ridges, seabed iceberg scouring and even shipwrecks. Here are a few of the great underwater visualisations that you can learn more about.

    3
    About three million shipwrecks litter the oceans across the globe. About 8000 of these are believed to lie around the shores of Australia. The SS Lake Illawarra (pictured) wreck is located in the Derwent River in Hobart and surveyed in detail.

    4
    You may have heard of the Hawaiian volcano chain. But what about our own Australian chain? The Tasmantid seamount chain consists of 16 extinct volcanoes, some with elevations of more than 4000 metres. The volcanoes are aged from six to 40 million years old. The seamount chain spans 2000 km across the Coral and Tasman Seas. Data sourced from GEBCO.

    4
    When an iceberg drifts into shallow waters, its base or keel can come into contact with the seabed. And this causes scours. We’ve mapped scours carved into the seabed by icebergs adrift in the Southern Ocean.

    5
    Bremer Canyon, off the coast of Bremer Bay in Western Australia, is one of Australia’s marine biodiversity hotspots. It starts atop the continental shelf in 100–200 metres of water before plunging to abyssal depths of more than 4000 metres. Background data sourced from GEBCO.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:05 pm on June 18, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Powering our future oceans with floating research labs", And for tackling plastic waste, , Floating lab a big tick for ecosystem rehabilitation, RV Investigator, Wait – don’t we already have a floating lab?   

    From CSIROscope: “Powering our future oceans with floating research labs” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    18 June 2020
    Sophie Schmidt

    From Wes Anderson to Jules Verne and the masterpiece that was Waterworld, for decades, the fictional idea of a floating science lab or research ark has captivated our imaginations.

    The fourth and final winner of our World Oceans Day Competition got us wondering about fact versus fiction. Here’s what Rita de Heer suggested.

    “Convert large superfluous still-seaworthy freighters into floating island arks to accompany gyre clean-up efforts, using onboard sustainable power plants to fuel living and research quarters, labs, pools and ponds for rehabilitation of sea-creatures to arrest the ongoing losses to plastics.”

    1
    Convert large sea freighters? Rita had a winning idea. Illustration by Campbell Whyte.

    So, what’s the viability of a floating lab? We asked our scientists for their thoughts.

    Floating lab a big tick for ecosystem rehabilitation

    Each year, our coral reef researcher Christopher Doropoulos heads to the Great Barrier Reef to witness and learn from annual coral spawning events.

    When it comes to studying coral, it’s one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments. Some coral species spawn like clockwork. On a set number of days after the full moon and hours after sunset – but there are always exceptions.

    “It’s a bit nerve wracking, because there’s so much anticipation leading up to it. We have a general idea of when it’s going to happen but not the exact moment,” Chris said.

    “So every day we prepare in case the spawning event occurs. The initial set-up requires continual maintenance. Our research activities can go on for 48 or 72 hours, often running on limited sleep.”

    Being able to travel on an equipped research ark to observe and harness coral spawning events around the world would come in handy. Coral researchers need to take samples during the spawning event, so a research ark would allow them to access the events and then mimic the natural environment on board.

    Chris’ fieldwork is critical to understanding the lifecycle of coral. It provides essential knowledge for future rehabilitation efforts. Researchers usually rely on aerial surveys to capture the span of coral bleaching events. Then water surveys are used to diagnose the mortality of the corals on the reef. Surveys conducted on the ark could include diving or technology deployed off the research ship. For example towed cameras, or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) or remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

    We could put more research stations where they are needed, bolstering future rehabilitation with improved data collection. This could help researchers target known areas for rare and endangered species. There are over 600 different types of coral in the Great Barrier Reef alone!

    “Corals can recover from bleaching. But it depends on the severity of the event on whether those corals will die or recover,” Chris said.

    2
    Coral spawning is one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments. Itusually only happens once a year after a full moon. Image: Christopher Doropoulos.

    And for tackling plastic waste

    Dr Qamar Schuyler is a research scientist in our marine debris team. She looks at the impact of marine debris on creatures like sea turtles.

    “There are a lot of things that appealed to me about this idea. Especially reusing something that already exists, like a vessel,” Qamar said.

    “One of the challenges of studying ocean plastics is that we have a mammoth area of ocean and we can only hit a targeted number of spots.”

    Much of Qamar’s current research is on land and nearshore areas. In 2018, her team shed light on the impact of plastic on sea turtles found in coastal areas.

    “We found that it is a numbers game. 14 ingested pieces of plastic causes a relatively high rate of mortality for coastal turtles but we have far fewer data on the turtles in the open ocean.”

    “Not all plastics are created equal. Some are quite harmful and some are not. Out in the open ocean, there are different types of plastic, and they tend to be smaller. It would not be out of the question to think that a turtle out there could eat far more plastics before having a 50 per cent mortality risk.”

    A platform at sea would also allow specialists to come across animals that might have a chance at rehabilitation. Before they have washed up on shore.

    As for Rita’s suggestion on ocean clean ups, there are lots of challenges. Even at the densest points in oceanic gyres, Qamar describes it as “only specks of plastic in the big soup of an ocean. It’s not as simple as putting a net in and scooping it up.”

    “Do we have the knowledge and technology to create a plastic–free ocean? I think we do, but achieving that will take a global effort,” Qamar said.

    “Ultimately, we want to stop plastics entering the ocean in the first instance. Our research is looking at the whole of the pipeline. Starting at the top by changing how we manufacture materials. Then working down the chain to avoid single use plastics. By the time plastic reaches the ocean, we’re about as far down the pipeline as you can get. In that sense, cleaning up is the least useful point.”

    3
    Investigator was purpose-built for a wide-range of research. The ship before it was the Southern Surveyor which was a converted fisheries trawler that was refitted for research.

    Wait – don’t we already have a floating lab?

    We have our own research vessel, Investigator, which can spend up to 300 days at sea per year!

    Marine geophysicist Tara Martin was part of the team who commissioned the scientific equipment on board Investigator. Tara said the ship can support some live animals on board and has a raft of sustainability measures in place.

    “We have incubation tanks on the deck, which we sometimes fill with seawater to grow and transport sea creatures we’re studying such as krill,” Tara said.

    “The vessel is capable of making its own fresh water from the sea water around it. We have a strict recycling program on board too.”

    Before Investigator, we had Southern Surveyor which was originally a trawler converted into a research vessel. But we’ll explain why it might not be what Rita had in mind.

    “We know large vessels require lots of people and power to run. Ships use a lot of energy to get to where they’re going and to ‘keep the lights on,’” Tara said.

    “Gyres are marine creature hotspots, but they also move, so it would need to travel to keep up with one. The ocean is also a harsh environment for metal.”

    And in terms of renewable energy on research vessels like solar power, it isn’t out of the question. But there’s some considerations around the technology being ready.

    “So far, only smaller vessels, like AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) operate on renewables like wave or solar power,” Tara said.

    Tara agrees it would be fantastic to find a job for the many old freighters which roam our oceans. But it might be more viable to consider some small-scale autonomous solutions for our future oceans instead.

    Congratulations again Rita for your thought-provoking idea for a floating lab!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:28 pm on September 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Along with the rock samples corals were also collected identified and catalogued., Another haul from the deep produced large pieces of ‘precious coral’ which are black on the outside but intensely pinkish-red inside., , Deep-sea coral for all intents and purposes comes from anywhere that sunlight doesn’t reach. This is where some of the more challenging finds came from., Glass sponges are hard to describe at the best of times but even more so when they are collected from the deep-sea!, RV Investigator, The most intriguing specimen has been a large dense glass sponge., The voyage covered over 8000 km in the waters of Australia; Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; and New Caledonia., They collected samples from the seamounts rising thousands of metres from the seafloor., Understanding the formation of the seamounts and the plateau they start with will give us a better understanding of similar features on land., Volcanic seamounts could contribute to figuring out how Australia and the Pacific Islands were formed many millions of years ago.   

    From CSIROscope: “Finders keepers! What our Investigator found on its Coral Sea journey” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    6 September 2019
    Huw Morgan

    1
    Jeremy Horowitz looking at coral on RV Investigator. Image: Huw Morgan.

    Earlier this week, our research vessel Investigator returned to port in Brisbane after a 28-day voyage of discovery in the Coral Sea.

    CSIRO RV Investigator. CSIRO Australia

    The researchers onboard were mapping and collecting samples from two chains of volcanic seamounts which run parallel to the east coast of Australia. The team, led by Chief Scientist Associate Professor Jo Whittaker from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, were looking to better understand how the seamounts were formed. This research could contribute to figuring out how Australia and the Pacific Islands were formed many millions of years ago.

    On the way, the team on board discovered deep-sea corals, historic shipwrecks and everything else in between!

    The Contiki Tour we all wanted to go on

    The voyage covered over 8000 km in the waters of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. During that time the 35 scientists onboard completed 55 rock dredges and collected over 650 rock samples, including from depths of up to 4500 m. A rock dredge is where a large bag made of metal chain links attached to a heavy frame is lowered into the ocean to collect rock samples.

    The rocks collected included samples of the Earth’s mantle as well as from an area where the seafloor was believed to have been spreading. They also collected samples from the seamounts rising thousands of metres from the seafloor.

    “Understanding the formation of the seamounts and the plateau they start with will give us a better understanding of similar features on land and what impact they might have on resource development,” Associate Professor Jo Whittaker said.

    “The rocks we collected will provide materials to study for many years to come.”

    Forget Nemo, we’re finding coral

    Along with the rock samples, corals were also collected, identified and catalogued. But it wasn’t so easy to do.

    Jeremy Horowitz from James Cook University knows a lot about coral. But when it comes to coral from the deep-sea, he and a lot of other experts are stumped.

    2
    Bamboo Coral found from the Coral Sea. Image: Jeremy Horowitz

    Deep-sea coral, for all intents and purposes, comes from anywhere that sunlight doesn’t reach. This is where some of the more challenging finds came from.

    “What we know about coral and biodiversity has a bias toward the easy to access areas,” Jeremy said.

    “Those places that are harder to survey, such as the deep-sea, have much less known about them and a way to help protect all biodiversity is to survey all areas.”

    To help identify some of his finds from the voyage, Jeremy has had to send images to experts around the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington. They may well be new species never found before.

    Looking through the glass (coral)

    International links and collaborations are common on Investigator voyages. The ship creates a hub that brings together scientists, researchers and students from around the world.

    Jeremy, who grew up in New York, joined the voyage to the Coral Sea specifically to catalogue coral and biological samples. He also preserves small sections of these samples for DNA testing.

    Perhaps the most intriguing specimen Jeremy has encountered so far has been a large dense glass sponge. Glass sponges are hard to describe at the best of times but even more so when they are collected from the deep-sea! Basically, they are animals found in the deep sea and their tissues contain glass-like structural particles, called spicules, that are made of silica.

    4
    Coral known as the glass sponge. Image: Jeremy Horowitz

    The most well-known glass sponges are made up of a lattice-like framework which forms delicate ‘fingers’ reaching out into the water. This is not at all like the glass sponge Jeremy discovered on this voyage.

    “When you think of glass sponges you think of delicate, intricate maze-shaped sponges,” he said.

    “What is less well known are these dense glass sponges which are made from pure silica.

    “They were first mistaken for bone, like whalebone, because they were so big, dense and hard. They don’t resemble sponges at all.

    “We sent an image to an expert at the Queensland Museum and he confirmed that this was something that they rarely find alive. Plus it was highly likely to be a new species.

    “This one is so different from other glass sponges and glass sponges as a group are so different from other sponges – so this one is really weird and unique,” he said.

    Another haul from the deep produced large pieces of ‘precious coral’ which are black on the outside but intensely pinkish-red inside. The coral, which is also found in the Mediterranean Sea in shallower waters, has been used for jewellery since the times of ancient Egypt.

    “There is not a lot known about how many species of precious coral there are and where they are found,” Jeremy said.

    “They are harvested so they need to be managed properly. To manage them we first need to know their abundance and distribution.”

    6
    Scientists analysing rock samples on board. Image: Huw Morgan.

    Plenty of ships in the sea

    There might be heaps of coral in its namesake sea, but there is one discovery that has warmed the hearts of researchers.

    Another James Cook University scientist onboard Investigator has led a team that thinks they may have discovered the wreck of the WWII US oil tanker USS Neosho. Neosho was sunk defending Australia in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The ship was hit seven times by Japanese aircraft as the US worked with Australia to defend against the Japanese advance. The possible location of the wreck was found near the tanker’s last reported position in the Coral Sea, at nearly 3 km deep. The survey was also Investigator’s deepest-ever targeted wreck survey.

    The Coral Sea marine park contains over 45 known shipwrecks. The data from this discovery will help inform future management activities and protect the heritage values of this significant offshore marine environment.

    A collaborative voyage of discovery that’s all in month’s work for RV Investigator.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:18 pm on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator", , , Going back to the future, RV Investigator, SS Carlisle, SS Macumba, The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland   

    From CSIROscope: “Fill up on fish & ships with RV Investigator” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    RV Investigator Australia

    1
    The SS Barrabool collides with the SS Queensland. Because of how new the SS Queensland was, we don’t have a photo of what it looked like. But this is where we come in.

    The year was 1876. The University of Adelaide began classes that year and the Melbourne Cup was run for the first time on the first Tuesday of November.

    It was also the year that SS Queensland sank off Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, after colliding with the steamer Barrabool in the early morning of 3 August.

    SS Queensland was en route to Fuzhou, China from Melbourne, and was heading towards Sydney with a cargo of Chinese tea.

    But the second mate of Barrabool mistook the masthead light of Queensland for the Wilson’s Promontory lighthouse. It was going full speed ahead until it struck Queensland’s starboard (or right) side.

    Queensland was so badly damaged that it sank in only 35 minutes.

    143 years later in 2019, our research vessel (RV) Investigator is using the wreck of SS Queensland to give us higher quality maps for safe navigation, and test other equipment ahead of a program of historic shipwreck surveys in the area. The survey program brings together experts from the Australian National Maritime Museum, Heritage Victoria and the Australian Hydrographic Office, who will work with our team on board to search for other ships whose resting location is currently unknown.

    3
    The seafloor map of SS Queensland from our multibeam echo sounders

    Going back to the future

    The Australian coastline is dotted with shipwrecks, some known and others yet to be discovered. One part of the mission of our RV Investigator is to help fill in the gaps in our seafloor maps to aid in ensuring safe shipping and navigation.

    On many voyages, we also seek to work with maritime heritage agencies to solve the mystery and pinpoint the location of long-lost ships.

    This brings our super science ship to the Bass Strait on a voyage to map the seafloor and survey for historic shipwrecks.

    The wreck site of SS Queensland, which is nearly 100m long and was found in 2005, provides RV Investigator with the perfect location to use, calibrate and test its multibeam echo sounders on a known target. This equipment delivers colourful images of the seafloor and its surrounding structures, as well as showing the unexpected and tell-tale shapes of possible shipwrecks.

    But it only gives a rough image of what the wreck and the area surrounding it looks like. The image is so rough that it sometimes looks like it has icicles on the boat! Definitely not correct when we’re off the Victorian coast. To fix this, the scientists on our ship have to clean up this interference which often takes days.

    There’s nothing like taking a closer look though!

    4
    The camera gives us a closeup look of the wreck to aid in identification and wreck site mapping.

    Getting the drop on history

    Once the initial mapping of SS Queensland is complete, a drop camera is then lowered from RV Investigator to take a closer look at the wreck. This special underwater camera is lowered to sit just above the wreck. Investigator then sailed parallel to the wreck at low speed to capture close up vision of the ship and build a composite picture of the whole site.

    Doing multiple passes over a site allows mapping technicians to build more detailed maps of features and objects, which can then be used to confirm if that unexpected something is a shipwreck.

    Along the way, the drop camera also captures footage of a lot of curious fish and other marine life.

    With these surveys completed and equipment tested, Investigator departed to begin its program of shipwreck surveys in Bass Strait.

    With proven successes in the past, including the discoveries of SS Macumba and SS Carlisle in 2017, Investigator’s freshly calibrated mapping systems have all on board excited about what they might find.

    We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with the fish and ships they find in the deep!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mapping the deep dark seafloor, Marine Geophysics, , Microbial Science, , RV Investigator, The Ship's Doctor, The Ship’s Captain, Vessel construction, Voyage Management,   

    From CSIROscope: Women In STEM-“Seafaring superstars: Six women shining on our national science ship” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    8 March 2019
    Kate Cranney

    1
    Toni Moate lead the construction of the massive research vessel, Investigator. Image: Chris McKay

    This International Women’s Day, we’d like you to meet the talented women on board our research vessel Investigator.

    Investigator travels from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge, delivering up to 300 research days a year. And on each voyage you’ll find female scientists, ship’s crew and support staff answering big questions, whether they’re studying ancient microbes or they’re ensuring the health and well-being of the people on board.

    The six women you’ll meet include an oceanographer, a doctor, a marine geophysicist, a voyage manager, a captain and—last boat not least!—a leader who oversaw the construction of the ship itself. Some of these women knew, when they were young, that science floated their boat. Others took a more sea-nic route. But one thing’s for shore: they’re all smart, adventurous, competent, courageous and hard-working.

    So steady your sea legs, you bunch of landlubbers, and let’s meet the women on board!

    Martina Doblin studies the first organisms on the planet
    2
    Martina Doblin studies microscopic organisms called microbes – the first organisms on the planet. Image: Doug Thost

    “When I was studying in Hobart I had the opportunity to volunteer on a voyage to Antarctica. I was really moved to see this pristine part of the planet. It changed me. I came back and the world looked different. I knew I’d chosen the right career path.”

    Martina is a biological oceanographer. She looks at microscopic organisms called microbes—the first organisms on the planet. As she points out, “If there were no microbes on the planet there’d be no people!” It’s important science, especially in the face of a changing climate: Martina seeks to understand what climate change and a warmer ocean will mean for these microbes.

    Martina has been on Investigator several times, including as the ship’s Chief Scientist. For Martina, “the Chief Scientist helps to make sure the scientists leave the ship with the data that they need to solve the big questions.”

    But it’s not just about her science. “I’ve been able to train several female biological oceanographers, which has been really satisfying, partly because it’s still a pretty male-dominated profession,” she says. “For young female scientists, it’s a very empowering thing to be able to do experiments on a big ship, to work at sea and use the equipment. It can be life changing”. Learn more about tiny organisms and big voyages!

    Fun fact: Martina’s identical twin also works in environmental science—she’s a plant biologist!

    Sheri Newman is the Ship’s Doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, counsellor…
    3
    Dr Sheri Newman was a ship doctor during a voyage to Antarctica, aboard RV Investigator.

    “As the Ship’s Doctor, I have to be the doctor, the dentist, the physiotherapist, the mental health counsellor and of course all the science roles. It’s a huge responsibility and one that I cherish.”

    When Sheri Newman was young, she knew she wanted to be a doctor and a surgeon. Jump ahead to 2016, and Sheri is a doctor and a surgeon. In Australia, women accounted for 50 per cent of all medical graduates, but women make up just 12 per cent of all surgeons—the smallest proportion of any medical speciality.

    But Sheri was resolute. “Going through the training is particularly intense, brutal even! The hours you have to put in, the mental and physical fatigue, can be quite a difficult and challenging career.” Mid-way through her training, Sheri decided that she “hadn’t had enough adventure” in her life at that point, so she took a year off and went to Antarctica as medical officer. “The experience was incredible.”

    The Antarctic experience got under skin. After her time on Investigator, she decided to become a wilderness doctor. She’s since been the Ship’s Doctor on many vessels in remote and exciting locations: she’s been to more than 17 countries, as a doctor, medical student and intrepid traveller.

    “[Through my work] I get the opportunity to work in a place that’s so isolated and so untouched … And my role is so varied: I get to be around the science crew, to be involved in what they do. And there are fabulous vistas … and whales! It’s truly special.”

    Tara Martin maps the deep, dark, mysterious seafloor
    4
    Tara Martin’s work links her back to the explorers: she maps the deep dark seafloor, as a marine geophysicist aboard RV Investigator.

    “I get immense satisfaction in my job. It’s not a normal job—I like that.”

    Tara is a marine geophysicist. She maps the deep ravines, plateaus and peaks of our uncharted seafloor, up to 11 000m below the ocean’s surface.

    “We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor … Australia has the third largest ocean zone in the word, and we’ve only mapped 25 per cent of it,” she explains. Each time Investigator goes to sea, Tara’s team maps more of this underwater world. Recently, Tara’s team revealed a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400km east of Tasmania. “Our job links us back to the explorers,” she remarks.

    But Tara wasn’t always so keen on science. “It wasn’t until I was much older that I looked at changes of career [and studied marine geophysics]. I didn’t know what physics was before then … so I worked hard at university. I worked really, really hard!”

    When she started working, life at sea wasn’t as female-friendly as it is now. “Over my 20 year career, I’ve certainly experienced moments where I’ve not been allowed to do work that my male colleagues were doing out on the back-deck, because I’m a woman. Things have changed.”

    Working at sea isn’t for everyone: Tara talks of long shifts, seven days a week. But then, she says, she’ll get to work with cutting edge science, or someone will make an exciting new discovery. For Tara, “Those are the moments you go to sea for!”

    Tegan Sime keeps the voyage science on course
    5
    Tegan Sime is a Voyage Manager aboard RV Investigator. She keeps the crew and scientists singing from the same sea-shanty songbook.

    “I’ve never really followed the same path as everybody else. Being a late bloomer isn’t necessarily a bad thing … I’ve just taken my time to really figure out what I want to do. And I’m there now. I’ve got a great job, a great career, and I love it.”

    When Tegan finished Year 12, she didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she volunteered at a sailing school. She loved the adrenaline and excitement of sailing, so volunteered on Young Endeavour. It was her first taste of tall ship sailing. “Being out on the middle of the ocean, in the quiet, on a creaky ship that was designed hundreds of years ago—there’s a romance to it. And it was so much fun! I just loved it.”

    At 23, Tegan was eager to study marine biology at university, but she hadn’t done so well the first time around at school. Determined, she did Year 12 again, got her high school certificate, started university, and did her honours aboard our former research vessel, Southern Surveyor.

    Years on, Tegan is a Voyage Manager on Investigator. She is the key liaison between the crew of the ship and the scientists—she brings their work together. She also plays a key role in the mood of the people aboard the ship: “I guess I’m a bit of an amateur counsellor and I try to help people get through the tougher times when we’re out there.”

    There’s no typical day at sea. She tells a story about her recent birthday. “We were down near the ice-edge in the Antarctic. I woke up at 3am, it was pitch black, but when I peeked through my curtains I could see the Aurora lighting up the sky! I raced up the bridge and there were a couple of people taking photos and footage, and they all started singing happy birthday to me under the Aurora. It was a really special experience.”

    Madeleine Habib is the captain of our ship (aye, aye!)
    6
    Madeleine Habib is a Ship’s Captain. She is part of a very small group of women seafarers in Australia: less than 1% of the workforce.

    “I am drawn to working on ships that have a purpose—I want my work to have purpose. Being a captain…it’s not always easy. There are times when you are literally making decisions that affect the survival of the people on board the vessel.”

    Madeleine is a Ship’s Captain. She began her seafaring career at 22: “I was enchanted—suddenly I’d found this mix between a physical and mental challenge and I felt really confident that that’s what I wanted to pursue.” But she had to break down some entrenched gender biases. “Everybody just assumed I was a cook, and I really resented that—just because I was a young woman on a boat, that shouldn’t be the only role open to me. So when I returned to Australia, I went for my first Captain’s licence. I wanted to be taken seriously in the maritime industry.”

    Women currently represent less than 1 per cent of the total number of seafarers in Australia. Madeleine is part of this pioneering group. “To young women I’d like to say that a life at sea is a viable career. It’s so important to believe in your own potential, and only be limited by your own imagination.”

    Toni Moate oversaw the building of our world-class research vessel Investigator
    7
    Toni Moate stands proud in front of Investigator. She oversaw the creation of this $120 million state-of-the-art research vessel.

    “Like many women, when I was first offered the opportunity to lead the project, I didn’t think I had the skill set. Now, when I see the Investigator, I feel incredible pride.”

    Not many people can say they were responsible for building Australia’s biggest state-of-the-art research vessel.

    In 2009, Toni was chosen to lead the build of Investigator. She spent the next five years propelling the creation of the $120 million ship. It took 3 million (wo)man hours, and some tense discussions in a male-dominated industry to build the ship. Toni is so familiar with Investigator that it “feels like I’m walking around my house!”

    Toni left school at 15, at the end of Year 10. At that stage, she’d never left Tasmania. She went into the public service, and hoped to be a secretary one day.

    Through her leadership role with the ship-build project, she’s shown her young daughters “that women can do a lot more than they think they can do.” As Toni says, “My daughters took away a lot of life lessons—I think they learned that hard work pays off; that you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. They feel as proud of that ship as I do.”

    And we couldn’t be prouder of Toni. In 2017, she was awarded the Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year. She is now our Director, National Collections & Marine Infrastructure. Her ambit includes RV Investigator, so she can still step on board and walk around her second home!

    Women and science—why do we need to rock the boat?

    If we’re going to build a healthy, prosperous Australia, we need all of the talented women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) to be part of the team.

    But women in STEMM face a number of barriers in their careers, some obvious, some covert. In STEMM fields, only 18 per cent of leadership positions are held by women. Since the 1980s, more than half of all students graduating with a Bachelor of Science or a life science PhD are women, but women make up less than 20 per cent of lead researchers at senior levels in universities and research institutes.

    So what are we doing to get more women on board … and on boards?

    So what are we doing to address gender equity?

    We’re part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot and the Male Champions of Change (MCC) initiative.

    We were one of the first cohort members of Australia’s SAGE Athena Swan pilot program, and were recently awarded an Institutional Bronze Award. And we’re continuing to roll out our SAGE Action Plan, designed to drive systemic, long-term change towards gender equity within our organisation. You can read it here.

    And it’s not just an internal mission. We’re also addressing gender inequality in the research and projects that we deliver in developing nations.
    Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:02 am on January 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), , Australia and Antarctica, , Did a hotspot break up your relationship?, , Lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle), , , , RV Investigator, Seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains)., Smoke in the water,   

    From CSIROscope: “Did a hotspot break up your relationship?” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    7 January 2019
    Sophie Schmidt

    1
    Women make up 85% of scientists on this voyage of RV Investigator, which is being led by the University of Tasmania.

    RV Investigator Australia

    We’re back out on the waves on board RV Investigator serving up live science plucked fresh from the high seas – and what a voyage it’s been! Since departing Hobart just after Christmas, we’ve been busy sailing for science – not in pursuit of freaky abyssal fish, nor whale watching or shipwrecks – this time we’ve set out for the love of rocks.

    Yep, you read it correctly. The Chief Scientist, Dr Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania is leading a team of geologists on a two-week voyage to undertake research into one of those huge, soul-searching kind of break ups. Think less Ariana and Pete (hello, millennials, are you reading CSIROscope?) and more Australia and Antarctica.

    We’re hoping that we might get the closure we need by investigating an area hundreds of kilometres off the coast of Tasmania brimming with seamounts (underwater volcanic mountains).

    All of this drama went down like, 35 million years ago, so we should really be over it by now, but according to Jo, it’s vital that we understand what happened in Antarctica’s past in order to predict its future.

    2
    Jill, CSIRO summer scholar student (right) has been busy mapping seamounts as part of our Geophysical Survey and Mapping (GSM) team.

    Smoke in the water

    Seamounts are caused by mantle plumes – basically, the homewreckers of the lithosphere (the Earth’s crust and upper mantle). Mantle plumes are an up-welling of extra-hot molten rock (magma) from the mantle below and they can seriously mess stuff up. They can cause the Earth’s crust to weaken and rise up through the sea floor, creating big structures such as seamounts and large underwater plateaus, like the Kerguelen Plateau in the Southern Ocean.

    While a mantle plume more or less stays put over time, tectonic plates can continue to drift over it, resulting in seamounts sprouting up in chains across the seafloor. A mantle plume can also cause the Earth’s surface to be uplifted.

    Jo thinks that if we can determine the age and the order in which the seamounts we are studying sprouted as a result of the Balleny mantle plume, we’ll get a better understanding of the role this plume played in this epic break-up.

    “Antarctica underwent a dramatic change 34 million years ago going from Tasmanian rainforests to a glaciated state,” says Jo.

    “Around the same time, it’s thought that the Tasman Gateway, separating Antarctica from Tasmania, opened up.”

    “This research is all about determining whether the mantle plume played a role in opening the Gateway.”

    3
    Voyage Chief Scientist Jo Whittaker inspects the contents of the latest geological treasure haul.

    Rockin’ n rollin’

    Faced with the prospect of a dry ship on New Years’ Eve and oscillating bouts of sea sickness – compounded by my baseline understanding of geology (which has marginally improved), it’s been a seamount-shaped learning curve catching up on the science above and below decks.

    RV Investigator operates 24 hours a day (eye-masks issued on board say “good science doesn’t sleep but good scientists do”) and being on board this world-class research vessel feels like living inside a big, heaving, cooperative sea creature, fuelled by the enthusiasm and smarts of the crew, scientists and support staff on board.

    2
    (In case you can’t tell) Tom, PhD student from University of Tasmania is excited to find some fresh basalt, because it will clue us in to the age of one of the seamounts.

    Much to one geologist’s delight, we occasionally dig up sediment. Popping this under the microscope can reveal a catalogue of million-year-old microfossils including the remnants of coral and plankton which can be dated.

    Everyone is connected on board by some advanced and not so advanced technology. It’s not unusual to wake up to a message from a scientist at 2am posting a photo from another ‘gorgeous dredge’ or to find napkins passionately scribbled with geological diagrams lying around the ship’s galley.

    4
    RV Investigator has advanced multibeam systems that can map to full ocean depth.

    Navigating the unknown is, of course, made much easier with detailed maps and our geospatial mapping team has been constantly collecting seafloor data in rotating 12-hour shifts. The maps are used to decide which part of the seamount we’d like to sample. The ship’s winch is then used to lower a dredge down to thousands of metres below the ocean surface to sample along the top of the seamount.

    Enough about us, though – let’s jump into a quick recap of why we’re here.

    Australia and Antarctica – a lava story
    When things were good, they were really good

    We don’t know how long Tasmania and Antarctica shacked up together before separating around 100 million years ago but their relationship goes back at least 500 million years (New Zealand came along for the ride too #itscomplicated).

    But their issues only became bigger and bigger

    At some point, maybe around 80 million years ago, tension rose to the surface. The Balleny mantle plume, a hotspot, appeared on the scene and fired up seamount after seamount in progressive chains. After being so close for so long, Antarctica and Tasmania started to drift apart.

    They decided their problems were just too big to solve

    At first, Tasmania started to back off slowly, at a rate of a few millimetres or so per year.

    Then, around 35 million years ago, rapid uplift of the crust saw Tasmania start zipping north at around 7 centimetres per year. It was time for Tasmania to move on, and leave the hotspot and Antarctica behind.

    Antarctica turned pretty frosty post-split

    Around 34 million years ago Antarctica became increasingly cold – icy, if you will – and the happy memories of the flora and fauna it once shared with Tasmania became a thing of the past. Perhaps Tasmania still carried a flame as it moved north – after all, its rocks, landforms, soils and vegetation are all by-products from a long-term relationship with Antarctica.

    As continental drift accelerated, the sea floor widened enough to form a gateway (opening) for colder waters to start circulating around Antarctica. We call this the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), which thermally isolates Antarctica and helps keeps it cold.

    It’s possible that the uplift of the seafloor could have led to the opening of the Tasman Gateway – and the related onset of the ACC. Determining how and when the seamounts formed in this region will help us better understand the evolution of the ACC.

    5
    Emily is an Australian teacher on board under our Educator on Board Program. When she’s not assisting scientists with preparing samples, she’s coming up with new geological slants for the school curriculum.

    Get your rocks off (the dredge and into the lab)

    Even though things have cooled off, we still have some lingering questions to be answered. Did continental drift alone cause the Tasman Gateway to open, leading to Antarctica’s progressively cold state? How drastically did the Balleny mantle plume affect the seafloor over time?

    Out here, Jo’s looking for those answers in the rock samples, which she describes as ‘geological time capsules’– they’ll be dated and analysed back at the lab.

    “All of the data we’re collecting will be used to train better models used to predict what will happen to Antarctica’s future coastline and the melting of its ice sheets.”

    “We’ll understand how the Tasman gateway opened – and whether or not the mantle plume played a major role in the glaciation of Antarctica.”

    6
    Scientists are seeking to join the dots to better understand this chain of seamounts that stretches across the Tasman Sea.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:57 am on April 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , RV Investigator   

    From CSIROscope: “(100,000) nautical miles of science” 

    CSIRO bloc

    CSIROscope

    18 April 2018
    Matt Marrison

    0 NM
    Shipyard, Singapore – June 2014

    1
    Investigator in dry dock in Singapore. Image Mike Watson.

    ____________________________________________________
    For those converting at home…

    1 nautical mile (NM) = 1.85 kilometres (km) or 1.15 miles (mi)
    ____________________________________________________

    The ship is our research vessel Investigator. Newly built, it sits in dry dock at Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore. Freshly painted in blue, green and white, Investigator waits patiently for water to flood the dock to lift it from its supports and float free for the first time.

    It’s a big day.

    The ship is a game-changer for marine research in Australia. With capabilities far beyond those of previous Australian research vessels, Investigator will voyage far and do big science. It gives the nation a world-leading scientific edge to help answer big questions about the marine environment and resources, climate and food security.

    Installation complete, the ship log is switched on for the first time. The display flickers into life and shows 0 nautical miles (NM). Our journey begins.

    10,000 NM
    Derwent River, Tasmania – December 2014

    2
    Investigator arrives in its home port of Hobart, Tasmania.

    Science takes you places. Investigator has travelled from Singapore to Hobart, and is undergoing sea trials ahead of commissioning. The trials test the limit of the ship’s endurance, taking it past 60°S to the edge of the Antarctic sea ice.

    On return, and nearly three years after construction began, Investigator is commissioned at the CSIRO Marine Laboratories in Hobart on 12 December 2014.

    20,000 NM
    East Australian Current, Tasman Sea – June 2015

    3
    Discovering undersea volcanoes off the NSW coast.

    While on a voyage to study the East Australian Current, seafloor surveys pick up some unusual features off the coast of Sydney. They look like a row of egg cups. The egg cups are ancient marine volcanoes, never seen before, but now appearing in bright colour on monitors across the ship.

    Scientists watch the story unfold in the evening news as they continue their work on board. This ship runs on a 24/7 mix of high-octane science.

    30,000 NM
    Heard Island, Southern Ocean – January 2016

    4
    Investigator approaches the remote Heard Island. Image Pete Harmsen.

    Investigator has journeyed to a remote corner of our vast ocean estate to study volcanoes on the sea floor. While at Heard Island, steam rising from Big Ben signals to those on board that they have arrived in time to witness a rare eruption from one of Australia’s only active volcanoes.

    5
    Big Ben expresses himself, giving researchers a bang for their investigatory buck. Image: Pete Harmsen.

    40,000 NM
    Somewhere in the Southern Ocean – April 2016

    6
    Collaboration leads to some deep discussions about data. Image Gloria Salgado Gispert.

    40 scientists walk onto a ship…

    Investigator’s great capacity for work has allowed three separate projects to be combined on this voyage to study the Southern Ocean, from the deep ocean high into the atmosphere above.

    The mixing pot of scientists, gathered on board from both near and far, leads to the sharing of ideas and knowledge from researchers across multiple disciplines. Importantly, it also gives students on board the chance to learn from world-renown experts in marine and climate science.

    50,000 NM
    West of Fiji, Pacific Ocean – July 2016

    7
    Investigator in tropical waters off Lautoka, Fiji.

    We have better maps of the moon than we do of our sea floor. The advanced mapping technology on Investigator is slowly chipping away at the edges of the unknown on each and every voyage.

    A transit voyage back from Fiji provides scientists with the opportunity to collect seafloor samples and map previously unseen underwater landscapes formed during the break-up of Gondwana.

    8
    https://www.zmescience.com/science/geology/fossilized-scorpion-gondwana-02092013/

    60,000 NM
    East Australian Current, Tasman Sea – November 2016

    9
    A deep-water mooring anchor stack is deployed from the back deck.

    Anchors away! Another mooring is lowered into the ocean. These form part of an important network of monitoring stations in oceans across the planet which feed data into global datasets. This is data that allow us to better understand ocean and climate change.

    Before Investigator, these deployments took smaller ships many voyages back and forth. Now, the ship is loaded up and heads out to complete the job in one go.

    70,000 NM
    Totten Glacier, Antarctica – March 2017

    10
    Investigator gets up close to the ice edge in Antarctica.

    It takes a lot of patience to study glaciers, especially those at the ends of the Earth! It’s a long way down and a long way back. Luckily, they aren’t going anywhere fast.

    Or are they? The science we’re enabling on this voyage will help us find out.

    Since arriving, Investigator has now completed 15 research and transit voyages totalling over 400 days of science at sea.

    80,000 NM
    The Abyss, Coral Sea – June 2017

    11
    Scientists look for signs of life in sediments from the abyss. Image Asher Flatt.

    Marine life can be found in some hard to reach places. Investigator is on a voyage to study life in Australia’s deep ocean abyss off the east coast. Seven Commonwealth Marine Reserves are being mapped and studied. Many of the denizens of the deep discovered are soon to become worldwide science sensations.

    90,000 NM
    North West Shelf, Indian Ocean – November 2017

    12
    Investigator enables unique studies of the biodiversity in our oceans.

    In the warm waters off the coast of Western Australia, Investigator is studying the long term recovery of trawled marine communities. It is part of a circumnavigation of the continent completed during 2017 that saw the ship conduct research in all offshore waters.

    It’s our first big lap but it won’t be our last.

    100,000 NM
    Somewhere in the Southern Ocean – February 2018

    13
    Clocking up the big science miles!

    Deep in the Southern Ocean, returning from its first voyage for 2018, Investigator passes a significant milestone on the ship log.

    100,000 nautical miles!

    That’s about 4.5 laps of the globe (at the equator).

    Across the journey, over 800 scientists, researchers and support staff (including over 100 students) from Australia and over 15 other countries have stepped on board as part of voyage science teams.

    For the 40 members of the science team on board today, it’s business as usual. The science doesn’t stop to celebrate. This is what the ship does. Big science over the big journey to answer the big questions.

    100,001+ NM

    The journey is only just beginning for this ship. It’s still a somewhat precocious teenager. With an operational life stretching out at least 25 years, much more science lies ahead for RV Investigator and our future heroes of science on board.

    Stay tuned for the sequel!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
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