KM3NeT - ORCA sea campaigns

Liveblogs during sea campaigns for ORCA.

Welcome, ORCA-10!

22 November 2021 – Four new detection units have been added to ORCA with a 5-day intense and successful sea operation.

The operation has been performed with two ships: the Castor, equipped for deployment and precise installation of the detection units on the sea floor, and Janus, equipped with a remotely operated vehicle used for inspecting and for connecting the new units to the submarine infrastructure.

You can read all details of the operation in the daily reports published in our ORCA-blog.

Data taking with 10 detection units has been started!

One of the new detection units of ORCA outboard of Castor, preparing to its journey to the seafloor, 2,500 m below.


Sea campaign completed: 10 detection units in operation at ORCA!

November 22 – Excellent progress today, with the work finalized on the two detection units lately deployed: after a confirmation from the tests that both were ok, the unfurling was started of the two units. The launcher vehicles were safely recovered from the Castor; the ROV inspected both units after unfurling, confirming that both are in nominal configuration. A new functionality test was then performed from the shore station to ensure that both detection units work nominally.

As the sea condition rapidly degraded during the day, it was decided to quit the campaign. The remaining detection units on deck will be saved for next time.

The final outcome of the campaign is: ORCA enlarged from 6 to 10 detection units!

The KM3NeT Collaboration is grateful to the heroic teams who have made such great effort onboard the two ships and in the shore station, as well as to all institutes which contributed to the construction of the detection units. We look forward to the next deployment campaign. Having said that: it’s time to resume data taking with an enlarged ORCA-10 now!

Approaching the ORCA submarine junction box at 2,500 m depth – in the foreground is the connector that the ROV is preparing to plug on it.
The team onboard the Janus – on one of the screens is the sonar image of the ORCA telescope, showing the nodes and the detection units on the sea floor. Note that the operation was performed respecting all applicable rules for protection against COVID-19 – the team got so close together only for the purpose of the picture.
The team onboard the Castor showing the ’10’ sign in front of a recovered launcher vehicle.
The onshore team. The featured instrument is an Optical Spectrum Analyser, showing the signals of the 10 detection units of ORCA. Note that the operation was performed respecting all applicable rules for protection against COVID-19 – the team got so close together only for the purpose of the picture.

News from the ORCA campaign – hard work ongoing, bad weather approaching

November 21 – The weather forecast does not look promising for next days. The main effort today was spent on some tuning of the equipment and preparation to next steps.

The situation at the sea bottom is: two new detection units have been already added to the ORCA detector; a third one, after installation, connection and test, is awaiting unfurling, and a fourth one is also on the sea floor awaiting to be connected – next step will be to connnect this one.

The video shows the overboarding of the ROV from the Janus – this takes place by means of a so-called A-frame (the structure at the stern of the ship which, rotating, reaches outboard).


Two new detection units added to ORCA… and counting

November 20 – It was night and day again. The work continues around the clock when you are at sea. The second detection unit was also deployed, connected and tested last night. After that, unfurling was performed for the two detection units. A final test was then made from the shore to check that the two units are ok even after unfurling, et… voilà:  ORCA is enlarged to 8 detection units.

The campaign is now continuing with deployment of the next detection units; a third one is already on the sea bottom, connected and tested. A fourth one has been deployed in the evening: we will keep going until the deck is empty or the weather changes (the forecast is not ideal for next week): which of the two will happen first?

After unfurling of a detection unit, the launcher vehicle on which the unit is installed for deployment reaches the surface and is recovered for next campaigns.
Inspection of a detection unit, after touchdown on the sea floor (~2,500 m depth). The unit featured here is the fourth one which has been deployed in this campaign.

First day of activity at the ORCA site

November 19 – The first day of activity has gone at the ORCA site. Most efforts today were aimed at getting everything well prepared for the action. The first detection unit was then deployed to the sea bottom, precisely placed on the sea floor and connected to the submarine infrastructure. The tests performed from shore confirm that the dection unit is nicely working, and it now awaits to be “unfurled” to its work configuration. Deployment of the second detection unit has been started in the evening.

Today was also the last day of our joint ANTARES-KM3NeT online Collaboration meeting, which ended with a cheerful activity to enjoy each other’s company even from a distance – you can read more about the meeting here.

The tho ships in action at the ORCA site: Castor (in the foreground) is equipped for deploying and accurately placing the detection units on the sea floor, while the Janus (in the background) is equipped with a ROV for submarine connections.

The movie shows the overboarding of one of the new detection units of ORCA.

 

 


New sea installation started for ORCA! Follow it from our blog

18 November 2021 – Right in the middle of the joint ANTARES and KM3NeT Collaboration meeting, which is taking place  – once again – online, a new sea campaign has been started for ORCA. Isn’t it the right way to show that a virus can’t stop science?

Today, November 18th, seven new detection units of KM3NeT, onboard the Castor ship of Foselev Marine, sailed from La Seyne sur Mer in Southern France to the KM3NeT/ORCA deep-sea site, about 40 km from the shore. The aim of the campaign is to deploy as many of them as the weather, which is not ideal in this season, will allow.

As in the past campaigns, two vessels will be used for the operation: the detection units will be deployed and precisely installed on the sea floor from the Castor, while a remotely operated vehicle will be maneuvered from the Janus of Comex.

We will document the activites of next days through our liveblog and over our social media channels.

Remain connected with us for this new, extraordinary challenge from the deep sea!

The deck of the Castor packed with detection units, while preparing to sail.