Archive for July 12th, 2008

Building the road as we drive it

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

We love our satellites! Nothing like multiple satellites showing you a clear path forward.  Thursday night we saw the updated altimetry from Colorado.  This morning John and I worked on the MODIS Sea Surface Temperature imagery we get from NASA. John is home in NJ. I find myself spending another weekend morning at a McDonald's WiFi hotspot, this time in Sturbridge, MA.  We found an enhancement that shows that big cold ring from last week, the one with the remoras, and we now have two satellites and a model all agreeing on the location of the eastern edge of this ring.  We are heading for a known favorable current, a very good feeling when you are battling a strong headwind and all the models say the route east is blocked.  We are even now seeing the currents turning from flowing to the south (the difficult headwind) to southwest, meaning we are approaching the more favorable current region.

We'll adjust the waypoint for RU17 at the 10:30 am (EDT) surfacing so that it is more perpendicular to the current, just like a swimmer in the rip current.  This will maximize our speed towards the region of known favorable currents.

We are pretty encouraged by all this, despite the delay of a few days we had earlier in the week dealing with the data uncertainty and the headwind.  Those that have followed along know we have left the region we cover with our own data. We can only reach part way across from this side of the pond. We are now reliant on our national and international colleagues for the data we use for guidance. We have new datasets from a broadly distributed network that we are now getting into our google earth interface, and the new tools are being used for pathplanning.  Partners in Spain and the Canary Islands have sent us their first test datasets that reach out across the Atlantic from their side of the pond. We'll be adding those in the next few weeks.

The great Antarctic explorer Shakleton once said, "If you can't find a way, you build a way."  The NJ version is here in action, we are buidling the road as we drive it.