Author Archive


Community Open House 2010!

Posted on July 5th, 2010 by Ben Cowie

We had one of the largest turnouts ever for our community event this year - thank you!

On Saturday evening, nearly one hundred community members came out to meet the PLRP team, and to learn about the science and exploration activities at Pavilion Lake. Most of these are people who live around the lake, or those who bring their families here for vacation. Many were members of the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation, and others make the trip from nearby towns. Community Day is special every year because we get to meet and share our work with the people who care most about the lake: those who call Pavilion Lake home at some point during the year, and those who have a deep historical connection with the area. Our project could not exist without the support of this amazing group of people who invite us to share their traditional territory, their lake and their homes with us for the two weeks of our operation.

Astronauts and teachers are an important part of PLRP - helping us to share knowledge with you!

After a brief introduction to the science and exploration activities by acting principal investigator Allyson Brady, Bree Mireau spoke on behalf of five teachers who are working to develop teaching resources based on the ongoing research at the lake. It was then the astronauts’ turn to speak to the crowd. Mike Gernhardt discussed the development of the new rover vehicles for extraterrestrial exploration, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield told a gripping story about the 8 1/2 minute experience of launching to space in the Shuttle. After a brief question and answer period, the community had an opportunity to mingle with the team, ask questions one-on-one, and check out the Mobile Mission Command Center.

Margarita listens patiently as a community member asks a question.

I had a chance to meet new people, and see many familiar faces from past years (hard to believe I’ve been coming to the lake for five years now) and answer questions about my favourite lake in BC. The evening was a great success, thanks to the participation and continued interest from the people who call this lake home.

Thank you, Pavilion Lake community.

- Ben

Alex Forrest finishes the North Basin flights for 2010

Posted on July 3rd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Alex completes the final flight in the North Basin for this year. Click the wrench icon in the Google Earth plugin window to slow down the animation speed.

To download the KMZ file, click here: 20100629D

Bekah looks at the highway-side of Pavilion Lake

Posted on July 2nd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Bekah Shepard explores the highway side of the North Basin of Pavilion Lake. Click the wrench icon in the Google Earth plugin window to slow down the animation speed.

Download the KMZ file for your Google Earth software here: 20100629C

Ask a Scientist: What’s the Difference between an AUV and an ROV?

Posted on July 2nd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Stephanie Nebel and Jonathan Gutsche answer an important distinction between two very different underwater vehicles! To ask your question, visit and search for the Pavilion Lake Research Project, or click this link:

YouTube Preview Image

Allyson Explores the North Basin

Posted on July 2nd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Allyson Brady explores the North Basin of Pavilion Lake. Click the wrench icon in the Google Earth plugin window to slow down the animation speed.

Download the KMZ for your own Google Earth use here: 20100629A

First flights of 2010 – Alex and Mars get underwater

Posted on June 29th, 2010 by Ben Cowie

I had the pleasure of being on board for the first launch of the 2010 field season. For this post, I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves.  You can view the rest of the photos from the day on Picasa here.

Enjoy, - Ben

Margarita Kicks off the 2010 Field Season!

Posted on June 28th, 2010 by Ben Cowie

PLRP Flight number 20100628C

Live from Pavilion Lake… It’s Saturday Night!

Posted on June 26th, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Welcome back to Pavilion Lake! It’s been a year since we last explored, and I’m excited to be at the lake with old friends, and new friends alike. This field season will be full of great discoveries, and will highlight some of the best space science and exploration activities that happen on Earth!

Chris Hadfield and Stan Love at DeepWorker training.

We welcome two new DeepWorker scientist-pilots this year: CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield, and NASA Astronaut Stanley Love. They completed their training in April, and are excited to be part of the PLRP science team this year – you will hear more from Chris and Stan next week!

This year my partner in crime, Heather Paul, and I will be working harder than ever to keep you updated from the field – with blogs like this one, 140 character tweets,  facebook posts, photos and videos from the team’s daily science and exploration activities. We welcome questions about our research through any of these channels, and will endeavour to answer questions from you as soon as we can!  Stay tuned for the return of the live webcams on the barge where you can watch the DeepWorker activity at the lake in real time, and a new interactive mapping feature that will tell the day’s exploration story in a Google Earth map!

Thanks for your interest in our project, and welcome back to Pavilion Lake.


Ben, working hard to lift DeepWorker out of the water.

Margarita Marinova – July 10, 2009 (20090710A)

Posted on June 3rd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

This is a preview of what’s coming for 2010 – Google Earth mapping from the field! This Google Earth animation shows Margarita Marinova flying DeepWorker 6 in the South Basin of Pavilion Lake. If the animation moves too quickly, adjust the animation setting by clicking on the ‘wrench’ icon in the Google Earth Box.

Soyuz Blasts Off in Kazakhstan – DeepWorker Dives in Vancouver

Posted on April 2nd, 2010 by Ben Cowie

Today was an exciting day in the world of space exploration! Here in Vancouver, it was day two of DeepWorker training with Chris and Stan, who searched through the murky waters of Burrard Inlet for sonar targets – but – halfway around the world, in Kazakhstan, the Russian space capsule Soyuz was preparing to blast off for the International Space Station with three astro/cosmonauts aboard! You can guess which event was more exciting to watch…

Soyuz blasts off in Kazakhstan (as viewed from the surface) - Photo: Scott Andrews/NASA

Deepworker in Action (as viewed from the surface) - Photo: Ben Cowie

After dinner in West Vancouver, we gathered around Chris’ laptop in the hotel to watch the Soyuz launch on NASA TV. American astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (who is Chris’ neighbor in Houston!), was aboard with two Russian cosmonauts: Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko. Watching a human spaceflight with astronauts provides a very unique perspective about the procedures, nuances and stresses experienced during the flight. They could almost predict to the second when the booster rockets were to detach, when camera angles would switch, and when various communications with Moscow would occur – including a conversation with the Roscosmos presdient! Chris was also quick to point out the toy duck hanging above the pilot’s position that belongs to Alexander’s daughter. The duck acts as a gravity sensor, indicating when the vehicle has left Earth’s gravitational pull by floating away on its tether!

Tomorrow, Stan and Chris will become fully-certified as DeepWorker pilots, and I will depart from Vancouver. But, I will be back soon – the field season countdown clock is T-minus 122,942 minutes and counting!

- Ben