August  2006  ARL
January  2007  Quarry
February  2007  la Pilita
March  2007  la Pilita
May  2007  Zacatón
Field Notes
Friday, March 9 - Thursday, March 15, 2007
Cenote la Pilita, Rancho la Azufrosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico
Our objective this week is to complete testing of the vehicle and payload and to conduct a scientific survey of la Pilita. The investigation of la Pilita also serves to prepare and validate the methods we will use to explore cenote el Zacatón.
When we arrived the vehicle was waiting by the water and we immediately went to work. The morning was spent testing certain theories and code modifications. After charging the batteries, we resumed operations, this time testing the payload and core sampling strategy.
On March 10th we collected our first samples. The morning was spent finalizing sample protocol; doing dry runs and consulting with John Spear. Then in the evening we ran several untethered missions to collect science samples.
March 11th was a memorable day. In the morning we successfully collected a core sample at 80m depth, completely untethered. During the afternoon charge we analyzed data and made last minute modifications. The evening plan was a long untethered mission... from which the vehicle did not return.
Fortunately Marcus quickly located the vehicle at 17m depth and salvaged it! Last night's problem turned out to be a configuration error that resulted in the vehicle ramming the northern wall on its final ascent. After the batteries charged, we decided to sample the cenote floor. A pair of pooper-scoopers were attached and we retrieved mud from the bottom.
On the 13th we ran 2 missions into a bulge, this area was incompletely mapped and inaccessible with the tether attached. The final day included some remotely-operated activities as well as running SLAM. We ran down the batteries, took a group photo, and started packing.