APRIL 2014 - Announcing Stromatolite Mapping Mission + Australia Field Updates!
Mapping mission testHamelin Pool, Shark Bay
This was hard to keep a secret, so many already know, but I am thrilled to share the news of an exciting collaboration with Dr. Pamela Reid's group from the University of Miami to map Stromatolites, in Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia, home to Earth's oldest reefs and organisms, for another high-resolution underwater mapping effort for the Reactive Reefs project. I am in the field from mid-March until the end of April mapping Stromatolites around Shark Bay (photo below by Ergin Karaca).
The hypersaline waters here have kept this microbial community thriving and also helps to keep the massive sharks at bay, though the venomous sea snakes love it! The sub-cm resolution 3D maps I will generate are of great interest to research teams around the world and, in particular, to NASA's astrobiology researchers as Stromatolites are Earth's oldest lifeform as evidenced by fossil records dating back to 3.5 billion years ago! All that O2 you love, thank your Stromatolite friends for oxygenating our atmosphere.
Arrival at Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay, Western Australia:
Stromatolites in Hamelin Pool!Pustular mat stromatolites at low tide at Flagpole, Shark Bay
Arrival at Hamelin Pool Getting stuck in coquina shells. Can you imagine that entire shorline is made up of these little guys?
Stuck in shells
Shark BayWe found this little guy on the trail to Hamelin Pool. Sharknado?
Octocopter being tested and prepared for mapping missions (below). This guy decided to put me through the gamut of electrical woes. ESCs mysteriously shorting out, calibrations becoming inaccurate after a few flights, and gains changing with even the slightest change in payload configuration!
OctocopterReady for mapping mission
Fortunately, after lots of soldering and reassembly, I was able to get this thing stabilized and flying:)
Octocopter test flight in PerthFinally stable!
On the road to Hamelin Pool from Perth
Sample flight video below (resized for slow internet here):
Flagpole short flight