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Explosive undersea mission for intrepid Kiwi

Hannah Prior with Nautilus ROV Hercules

28 August 2014
Explosive undersea mission for intrepid Kiwi
Local schools and scientists will be able to join New Zealander, Hannah Prior, on a high-tech deep sea mission in September, as part of an expedition led by world-renowned explorer and discover of the Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard.

Ms. Prior, 32, a Programme Director for the Sir Peter Blake Trust, will join Dr Ballard’s Nautilus Exploration Programme, from 17 September to 9 October, to study the submarine volcano Kick'em Jenny, off the coast of Grenada, as well as Barbados and Trinidad Mud volcanoes.

Ms. Prior expects that the expedition will be all the more thrilling given that Kick’em Jenny is currently overdue for an eruption, “So the scientists will certainly be on their toes during the three-week expedition,” she says.

“But the most exciting part of the expedition, from a science and education perspective, is that people at home will have the opportunity to watch all of the discoveries being made live, via telepresence technology, at and via social media.

“It's as close to actually being there as you can get and a fantastic opportunity for students and local scientists to follow our journey, in real time, as the Nautilus is fully equipped with live video, audio and data feeds,” says Ms Prior.

“Hercules and Argus - the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that scientists onboard will be using to explore the volcanoes and sea floor - are purpose-built by the team at the University of Rhode Island for the Nautilus Exploration Programme, and Hercules’ capability is pretty incredible. The ROV has arms for picking things up and taking samples, as well as probes, cameras and even storage drawers,” she says.

The Nautilus programme will focus on scientific research and exploration of the sea floor, from aboard the 64-metre ship, currently based in the Caribbean Sea. The educators and students selected for the Nautilus programme, including this particular expedition, represent schools, universities, science centres, aquariums and non-profit organisations from 23 states and six countries around the world.

In 2013, US ambassador, Mike Moore, connected the Sir Peter Blake Trust to Dr. Robert Ballard - one of the world’s leading ocean explorers. Whilst onboard the Nautilus, Ms Prior will have the opportunity to learn about the latest telepresence technology, which is capable of broadcasting undersea activities live to the world. By 2015 - 2016 the Sir Peter Blake Trust will host Nautilus in New Zealand and the Trust also plans to trial the use of telepresence technology on a local expedition broadcasting to schools and museums in New Zealand and across the globe.

Follow Hannah’s expedition aboard the Nautilus at:

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