This past weekend I made a visit to Kelly Lake and Pavilion Lake. The prospect of NASA operating in central BC right after I made the trip to Florida to watch the shuttle launch was too good to pass up. I am definitely still high(er than usual) on all things related to space flight. Under-water-space is a close second.
For those that didn’t follow the link on my last post, here is a quick summary of the Pavilion Lake Research Project (as I interpret it). A few years ago some recreational scuba divers discovered what they interpreted to be fresh water coral in Pavilion Lake (near Lillooet, BC). Later study revealed it was a life form known as microbialites. Further investigation revealed they were also present in Kelly Lake (near Clinton, BC). Microbialites are one of the oldest forms of life on earth and are nearly non-existent in places that are well suited to life on earth – other life has squeezed them out. Where they do still live there tends to be some extreme environmental factor (such as ultra high salinity) that make the environment too harsh for most life and only these microbialites are foolish enough to rush in where angels fear to tread.
NASA is interested in microbialites because if life does or used to exist elsewhere, the oldest forms of life on earth might be good indicators of what to look for. These two lakes in BC are amongst the easiest and least hostile places they have ever been discovered; some of them are only 20 m deep!
Tess was able to get the weekend off so she joined me en-route in Kamloops. My mummy and brother met up with us in Clinton along with our friend Mark. We got escorted through the command centre. Mum added another astronaut to her rapidly growing collection.
We then proceeded out to Kelly Lake. Mum rode with my bro on his newly acquired and renovated motorbike.
Out at the lake there was a demo happening with one of the unmanned mini subs. The operator had a big screen showing the live feed from the onboard camera and was apparently letting some of the kids drive it under water. I have always been a strong advocate of interactive science for maximised fun so I threw on my swim trunks and goggles and swam out to the machine. I played around being chased by and chasing the remote people for a while. I heard later the kids wanted to grab me with the “claw”. Theo took a couple of photos at the control screen. At one point I chased the thing down to about 8 m and my head began to hurt. But it did not hurt enough to diminish all the fun science I was in.