13 April 2012
A century ago, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg while crossing the North Atlantic and sank at the cost of over 1500 passengers and crew. Today, thousands of boats cross the same iceberg-ridden path with no loss of life – and satellites are helping.
Frederick Fleet had the unenviable task of being the lookout on the Titanic during the night of 14 April 1912. The ice information provided by Frederick was the only intelligence that Captain Edward John Smith had for navigating the ship through these treacherous waters.
One of the most important legacies of the Titanic disaster was the establishment of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Ice Patrol (IIP).
The role of the IIP today is to monitor icebergs and establish an iceberg danger area based on observations that are being fed into drift and melt models.
At any time, there may be tens to hundreds of thousands of icebergs in Arctic waters. The Ice Patrol’s challenge is to determine the number of icebergs that will drift south towards shipping lanes in the North Atlantic between Europe and the major ports of the United States and Canada.
To date, no vessel that has heeded the Ice Patrol’s published ‘iceberg limit’ has collided with an iceberg.
The IIP first used marine vessels to perform routine ice patrols, but switched to aerial surveillance after World War II. Today, aerial surveillance is the primary ice reconnaissance method, but IIP aims to replace expensive ice flights, and has been looking to satellite observations as the successor technology.
“In addition, the new higher resolution generation satellites will improve the ability to detect small icebergs.”
Radars on satellites are particularly suited to iceberg monitoring because they can acquire images through clouds and darkness.
The use of satellites for iceberg surveillance first caught the attention of scientists in 1992 when ESA’s ERS-1 satellite, carrying the synthetic aperture radar, was launched.
Investigations into the use of satellites for iceberg detection continued through the 1990s, but it wasn’t until the initiation of ESA’s Global Monitoring for Environmental Security (GMES) programme that wide-scale operational demonstrations began.
Ice Patrol area of operation
Under GMES, the Sentinel-1 constellation envisaged for launch in 2013 will provide complete coverage of the Arctic every 24 hours and therefore play an important role for iceberg monitoring.
Data from the current CryoSat-2 and forthcoming Sentinel-3 missions will complement this by providing information on extreme sea-ice features.
ESA’s Envisat satellite, which also carries a radar used for iceberg monitoring, is currently experiencing technical problems.
ESA has since activated a contingency agreement with the Canadian Space Agency to continue to fulfil some of the user requirements with Radarsat-1 and Radarsat-2 data.
An Unsinkable Legacy: Remembering the Titanic
In the wee hours of the morning on April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic – the largest passenger steamship in the world at the time – sank into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg only a few hours earlier. More than 1,500 people died. This year marks the centennial of one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history.
Let me tell you another story about another ship, The Titan, billed as “unsinkable.” Setting off across the Atlantic, it also hits an iceberg and goes down. Most of the passengers perish.
The Titan is the story you haven’t really heard about or read about in the news and history books – probably because it’s a work of fiction. Written by Morgan Robertson in 1898, “Futility” tells a tale eerily similar to that of the Titanic – 14 years before the actual tragedy. Was Robertson unknowingly predicting the future? As it turns out, his fictional ship is almost identical to the real one, including its dimensions and the speed at which it was traveling when it hit the iceberg.
Very few copies of the 1898 edition still exist. (Robertson re-released his book in 1912, following the Titanic sinking, with a new title, “The Wreck of the Titan.”) The Library of Congress has a copy in its Rare Book and Special Collections Division; there are other copies in the British Library and a few other private libraries.
You can read the book online here.
Robertson didn’t sink the market, as it were, when it came to such predictions. Another eerie coincidence is in W. T. Stead’s short story, “From the Old World to the New,” published in 1892. In the story, a White Star Line vessel, The Majestic, rescues the passengers of another ship after a collision with an iceberg. Strangely enough, Stead himself would go down with the Titanic 20 years later.
As far as the actual facts go, the Library has many primary sources on the Titanic. With headlines like “Queen of the Sea’s Awful Fate on Her First Trip Out,” “Death in Husband’s Arms Better Than Life Alone for These Heroines of the Titanic,” or “Wm. T. Stead, ‘Titanic’ Victim, is Sending Messages From Spirit Land” the Library’s Chronicling America newspaper collection brings you the news of the tragedy. More sample article and search suggestions can be found here.
Speaking of newspapers, as publications mark the Titanic centennial, you may be seeing lots of old photographs of the ship and such. Some of those are coming from the Library’s own photograph collections. From images of its construction and interior design to views of the ship on its first and final voyage to survivor portraits, knowing the ultimate outcome of the Titanic makes looking at these pictures all the more haunting.
As the Titanic went down, it’s said that the ship’s musicians played to the bitter end in an effort to maintain calm during the evacuation. According to survivor accounts, the hymn “Nearer My God To Thee” was the song they played. You can hear a version of it in the Library’s National Jukebox.
This really is just a sampling of the related resources on the Titanic. Several of the other Library blogs are also marking the anniversary. Make sure to check them out for more fascinating stories.
Source Link: http://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2012/04/an-unsinkable-legacy-remembering-the-titanic/
Titanic Being Eaten by Destructive Bacteria. A new bacterium isolated from the Titanic wreck is accelerating the wreck's disintegration into a pile of dust.
By Rossella Lorenzi
Tue Dec 7, 2010 03:09 PM ET
A bacterium isolated from rust samples of the RMS Titanic appears to be accelerating the wreck's disintegration. The bacteria are eating the wreck's metal and leaving behind "rusticles," or icicle-like deposits of rust. The porous rusticles will eventually dissolve into fine powder.
A rust stain may be all that will remain of the RMS Titanic in 15 to 20 years, according to new research into the submerged ocean liner wreck.
Working at a depth of over two miles, a never-before-seen bacterial species is devouring the hull of the so-called "unsinkable ship" on the Atlantic seabed where it sank on April 15, 1912, killing 1,517 people.
Named Halomonas titanicae, the bacterium was isolated from samples of so-called rusticles present on the wreck.
These dark orange structures look like icicles but are made up of rust.
"The isolate was obtained from rusticle samples collected during the Akademic Keldysh expedition in 1991, at the site of the wreck," Canadian and Spanish researchers write in the latest issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology published on Dec. 8.
Removed from the hull using the articulated arm of the Mir 2 robotic submersible, the rusticles were transferred to plastic collection bags and transported aseptically to the surface to be analyzed.
Using DNA technology, the researchers discovered that the rusticles were formed by a combination of 27 different strains of bacteria.
Among the bacteria feasting on the Titanic, there was a brand new member of the salt-loving Halomonas genus.
"We don't know yet whether Halomonas titanicae arrived aboard the RMS Titanic before or after it sank," said lead researcher Henrietta Mann, at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.
Able to adhere to steel surfaces, the new species has led to the formation of knob-like mounds of corrosion. Covered with such rust mounds, the wreck of the Titanic is at risk of disintegrating into dust, as the porous rusticles eventually dissolve into fine powder.
Discovered in 1985, about two miles below the ocean surface and some 329 miles southeast of Newfoundland, Canada, the wreck of the Titanic has been progressively deteriorating.
Originally made up of 50,000 tons of iron, the ship has dramatically split apart: the stern and the bow lie some 2,000 feet apart in opposite directions.
While potentially dangerous to underwater metal structures like shipwrecks, as well as offshore oil and gas pipelines, the newly discovered species could also offer positive applications for industry.
"The new specie of bacteria plays a significant part in the recycling of iron structures in deep ocean. It could be useful in the disposal old naval and merchant ships and oil rigs," Mann told Discovery News.
According to Bhavleen Kaur, science educator at the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, Canada, finding a new species is important, but even more exciting is the environment found in the rusticles.
"Out of the consortium of microbes, whose actions are responsible for the formation of rusticles on the Titanic wreck, Halomonas titanicae is the first to be fully characterized and named. How many more novel species are living within the rusticles? How did they get there or did they evolve within this artificially created mini-ecosystem?...These microbes can be an addition to the tool kit when we carry further investigations into corrosive processes," Kaur told Discovery News.
Source Url: http://news.discovery.com/history/titanic-bacteria-rust-wreck.html