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TREX Day 6: Sensors and Sunsets

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TREX Day 6: Sensors and Sunsets

By James Pruegsanusak ‘19

Due to the government shutdown, we moved out of Kilauea Military Camp this morning. There were so many things we needed to pack, including tools, equipment, food, and personal items, but we finally managed to pack all of them into two minivans.

TREXers waiting to move out of Kilauea Military Camp

We split up in two groups: Ju, Joey and I went to Pahala to bring back our PM sensors that we put on the air quality station, while the rest would go into the Ha farm in the afternoon to get more drone data and soil samples. We left one sensor there (named Chalala) so that we can still have reference data for further calibration and to see the correlation in a longer time period.

We also collected the data from micro SD cards in all of the boxes. The plan for tomorrow is to put these sensors in different places for maybe a day or two, hoping to see some variations of PM level from different parts of the island and gain some useful insights. Professor Kroll and TA Ben took two sensor boxes to present to teachers in Kona, asking for permission to put on those boxes at the schools for Ben’s post-doctoral research.

Joey and TA Josh getting the sensors down while Ben fixed the door at the air quality station in Pahala.

The high-quality reference air sensor in the station.

After getting back from Pahala, our group arrived at the new place, which is just a couple minute drive from the Kilauea Military Camp. With the help of TA Josh, we worked on the data analysis of PM sensors with the most recent data from today.

Driving south along the Hawaii 11, the single-lane ring road around the Big Island, we made sure to catch the sunset at wonderful spots on the island. We visited the Punalu’u beach, also known as the Black Sand Beach, where the other group also went in the morning. They saw some sea turtles, but by the time we got there we couldn’t see any. Still, the beautiful blue sky was already worth the 30 minute drive.

A little shop by the Black Sand Beach.

Waves splashing into the rocks at the Black Sand Beach.

Driving further south, we arrived at the South Point Cliff Dive, the southernmost point in the 50 United States. I don’t think I need to describe the beauty of the sunset. Please take a look at the photos for that.

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.