Southern Ocean GasEx Blog

Dispatches from the Southern Ocean Gas Exchange Experiment

Home, Sweet Home

Posted by sogasex on March 9, 2008

By Richard Miller, NASA, Stennis Space Center

There are many expressions that attempt to capture a sense of friends, family, and Home such as “Home, Sweet Home” and “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Here in the wet lab aboard the Ronald H. Brown we have similar sayings – “Lab, Sweet Lab” and “Be it ever so chaotic, there’s no place like lab.” The comparison seems reasonable since the Brown and the wet lab will be our Home for the next month or so.

Let me first introduce you to the residents of our lab, I mean home. There’s my good friend and colleague Carlos “the voice of Science” Del Castillo from the Applied Physics Lab at the Johns Hopkins University, Scott “DJ Free” Freeman from WET Labs, Inc., Chris “Patches“ Buonassissi from U. Conn., Bertrand “Bubba” Lubac from the University of Southern Mississippi, and part-time resident Bruce Hargreaves from Lehigh University, and of course there’s me, Rick “rocket man” Miller from NASA at the Stennis Space center. We are all part of the Optics Group on the cruise or team “Espuma”. Now that I think about it, our lab/home is more like a dorm room at college. We usually have music blaring, share stories, study, and sometimes do homework. This analogy was most apparent the first day aboard ship – it was reminiscent of the first day of college. There was activity everywhere and most of us were freshmen (that is, never been on the Brown before). We worked hard to discover the space that had been assigned to us and to quickly transform that space into a home. Bertrand, Chris, and Scott were escorted to college by their parents, Zhongping Lee, Heidi Dierssen, and Mike Twardowski, respectively. Like parents Ping, Heidi, and Mike helped us setup, fed us, and then left us. Heidi was especially thoughtful to Chris (the youngest of our group) and left him a small package to remind him to be safe while at sea. So now the wet lab, roughly a 12-by-20 foot room, designed to accommodate wet “things” (although we were scolded for having water on the floor) is our Lab, Sweet Lab, our office, meeting place, music room, movie theater, nap area, and, of course, science lab for about 42 days.

Although I may have painted a picture that portrays the cruise as college days, we are all extremely dedicated to do our work and to make what we hope will be significant contributions to the mission of SO GasEX. Carlos and I are examining the distribution of CDOM (Colored Dissolved Organic Matter or “Materia Orgánica Coloreada Disuelta” for our Spanish speaking friends) and the photoproduction of CO2 and CO from CDOM. Scott and Chris are examining the shape of the Volume Scattering Function (VSF) to determine the effect of bubbles on light backscattering. Bertrand is also studying the VSF and remote sensing reflectance. All of our work is related to the remote sensing of the Ocean from space and is funded by NASA, but more about our research in a later installment of the blog.

So that’s my brief introduction to the wet lab gang. Of all the expressions to conjure a feeling of home we maintain the “Home is where the heart is” to remind us of our true Homes, wherever that might be. And maybe, just maybe, if I click my heels together 3 times and repeat, “There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home” we will have completed a highly successful cruise and I’ll be at my home again in Slidell, Louisiana.


The CDOM station in the wet lab- my little corner of the world.


Carlos labeling sample bottles.


Left to Right: Bubba, DJ Free and Patches (aka, Bertrand, Scott and Chris) working in the wet lab.


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