North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep Ocean Habitats - NC Museum of Natural Sciences Website
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Questions & Answers

06/15/04

Q: Will current NATO testing of GPS blocking affect the mapping and therefore the results of your research?
and
Q: I saw on a local news page that GPS signals will be unreliable along parts of the North Carolina coast due to military tests from the 11th through the 20th of June, and I wonder if this will affect operations, and if so, could you comment on what it is like reverting to older methods of navigation like sextants? Does anybody on board even have a sextant anymore?

A: We use GPS navigation for practically everything we do. Not only is it used for the ship's navigation, we also use it for tracking the submersible, marking collection locations, and determining our next dive sites. Captain Ralph had been notified of the unreliable GPS navigation off the coast of the Carolinas through a navigation alert system.

This will definitely impact the accuracy of our data, and may mean that we have to look harder for some of our target sites. If our dive sites are more than 150 nautical miles off the coast the tests will not affect us however.

We do have a sextant on board, but we don't plan to use it. Our understanding is that the GPS system will continue to work, but will not give as good a resolution as under normal conditions. For example, if we can find a location to within a meter square when the GPS is fully functional, we can get within a 10 meter square when it is degraded. The captain does know how to use a sextant if there were an emergency that forced us to abandon ship (which is unlikely, though we are prepared).



Q: What advice would you give teachers about integrating the study of deep ocean habitats in an interdisciplinary middle school curriculum?

A: The study of deep ocean habitats could easily lend itself to a variety of subject areas. There are many resources on the web, including the NOAA web site about ocean exploration and the Museum's web site documenting the missions over the past several years (please see links below).

Hands on activities, such as collecting samples from water sources and identifying what is found in the water would give students a firsthand idea of what is involved in field research. Much of the technology used in the collection process is made by hand, such as the traps and nets. Students could design a trap or net, build it, and test it out.

Subject areas and skills that could easily be related to this kind of study include: life sciences, physical sciences, writing (narrative and technical), math (simple and complex), art (drawing specimens and photographing them), and computer skills to name a few.

NOAA Ocean Explorer site:
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/welcome.html

Education Section (with curriculum materials) of the NOAA Ocean Explorer site:
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/edu/welcome.html

NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Life on the Edge main page (2002-2005 Missions):
http://www.naturalsciences.org/education/deepsea/index.html

NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Summary of 2001 Mission:
http://www.naturalsciences.org/education/deepsea.html


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