Kevin Saw is a mechanical engineer from the National Oceanography Centre and is working
with the water sampling probe design team
meet the engineering team - Kevin Saw
My involvement in this project
I am head of the mechanical engineering team at NOC engaged in the design of the
sampling probe and deployment systems. The sampling probe comprises 24 bespoke water
collection bottles, two bespoke particle filters, various proprietary sensors, two
high definition cameras and numerous electronics housings, all of which must withstand
the crushing pressure in the lake (300 atmospheres) and sub-zero temperatures. As
such, the probe has presented some major engineering challenges: it must be contained
in a cylindrical envelope of 200 mm diameter by 5.5m long, be completely sterile
and must not introduce any contaminants into the lake.
What does being in this project mean to you personally?
This is in many ways the most technically challenging project of my career to date
- but challenge is what engineers thrive on! It is also incredibly exciting and at
the same time a little daunting. Because of the extremely remote location and sheer
difficulty in getting there, it is imperative that the probe works first time - straight
out of the box. Then there's the fact that 'our probe' will for the first time, ever,
provide scientists with a window into a world that has been locked away under 3km
of ice for thousands of years - this is quite humbling now I stop to think about
Have you been to Antarctica before?
Unfortunately I will not be travelling south for this expedition; nor have I yet
had the opportunity to set foot on the Antarctic continent. However, I was fortunate
enough to take part in a scientific research cruise six years ago to the Antarctic
coast and this in itself was truly awe-inspiring.