Archive for June 21st, 2011

Preliminary Path Planning

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Hey all,

So this morning we were given a brand new mission:  Silbo, now to fly under the name of Challenger 1, will conduct the first leg of the Challenger mission, which is to have a fleet of gliders that circumnavigates the globe.  Challenger 1 is expecting to be deployed Thursday morning (June 23, 2011) out of Reykjavic, Iceland and work its way south over the next couple months to Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.  In order to start preparing for this flight, we began looking at the hycom models of sea surface height with surface currents to try and get an idea of where we will have to steer this glider...

These over lays really show how difficult this mission may become.  In the map above, the black lines depict about where we want to keep Challenger 1 while on its mission as to keep it on the most direct rout possible to the Canaries, while staying far enough from main land Europe to avoid the heavy shipping lanes.

From these figures it seems starting out, the currents are going to pose a problem for us.  The Gulf Stream, which helped us so much during the 27 mission, now is our enemy.  Part of the tail end of this massive current peels off and goes north towards Iceland, meaning we have a number of currents going against us.

The following 4 links are gifs showing the water conditions south of Iceland that also show how tricky these waters will be.  All 4 depict a number of eddies that we will have to fly through.

Sea Surface Height

Sea Surface Temperature

Sea Surface Salinity


The figure below shows two possible paths that will put Challenger 1 against the least amount of resistance.

In the hycom model overlay seen above, we can see how we are really going to need to fight our way back and forth through the oncoming currents.  To add urgency to the matter, we are also in a race against the clock to conserve batteries.  Operating in cold water drains battery life faster than in warmer waters, so our need to get a move on will be priority.

However, we have a trump card.  Challenger 1 has the capabilities to dive to depths of about 1,200 meters (nearly 4,000 ft).  With our previous experiences of flying the two gliders, Drake and Cook, we know that if we fly deep enough it is possible to effectively fight unfavorable currents.  Keeping this in mind, we checked out the bathymetry of the region using geomapapp.  In the graph below, we have the bathymetry if we were to draw a straight line from Iceland to the Canaries, along with the map below where the red is shallower waters vs blue being deeper.

Luckily, we don't have to go too far to get to where the water is deep enough to really take advantage of the benefits of using a deep glider.  Some of these being that we can dive further to where the currents are not as persistent, and that because of the extended amount of time it takes for the deep glider to complete one undulation, the pump in the nose of the glider moves less conserving more battery.

That is all for now, and be sure to check for updates as Challenger 1 is expected to be launched early Thursday morning.


Nilsen & Oliver


Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Challenger Track

The Challenger Mission (1872-1876) truly laid the foundation for the study of Oceanography.  The HMS Challenger was the first scientific vessel to circumnavigate the globe; traveling over 130,000 km, taking 263 temperature samples, and discovering nearly 4,700 new species.  Since then there have been numerous advances and countless expeditions to learn as much as we can of the world’s ocean.

We need now more than ever to understand our oceans the best we can, as they are a huge contributing factor that dictates the global climate.  What we are setting out to do, is recreate the Challenger mission by coordinating a fleet of Slocum Gliders to sail along its path, taking continuous profiles that we can then use not only to better understand what the ocean is doing now, but to fine tune our models and be able to make more accurate predictions for the future.

The final and most important part of this mission is to inspire a global network of students throughout the course of this expedition.  As the global climate changes and other problems ensue, the weight of the world’s problems will fall to the current students as they replace their professors in their fields.  Our goal for this summer is to fly the first leg of the Challenger Mission from Reykjavic, Iceland to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands using the Slocum Glider Challenger 1, to be piloted solely by students working from Rutgers, PLOCAN (Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands) and The University of Western Australia.

Phase ONE

After the success of RU 27 in 2009, which gave us concrete proof we can run extreme long distance missions using the Slocum Gliders, we now move to our next challenge of taking gliders around the world through the challenger mission.  Now starting in 2011, we run the first leg of the mission (shown here in green) going from Iceland to the Canaries.  The planning for the next two missions of crossing the Atlantic through the tropics are also in the works for the next couple years (shown in red and orange)

Students involvement

Dave Kaminsky & Shannon Harrison

Hey everyone! This summer, we're interning at the University of Western Australia to do a glider-based research project at the Oceans Institute in conjunction with the Australian National Facility for Ocean Gliders and the Integrated Marine Observing System. We met faculty and staff from the University of Western Australia this past March at a global glider conference held at PLOCAN's facilities in Gran Canaria! Since we're half way across the world from our team back at Rutgers, there's a 12-hour difference from NJ to Western Australia, so we'll be taking the night shift for piloting Silbo! We're looking forward to working on the Challenger 1 mission with our teammates in the COOLroom at Rutgers and our partners at PLOCAN!

The group of students working from Rutgers consists of Nilsen Strandskov, Oliver Ho, Lindsay Roupe, Ruben Marrero Gomez & Juan Alberto Gonzalez Santana.  Nilsen and Oliver are majoring in Marine Science at Rutgers.  Lindsay is an intern from North Carolina State University, also studying Marine Science.  Ruben and Juan will be joining us from the Canaries and helping us on the mission through September.  We will be in charge of every aspect of this mission from path planning to public out reach and writing the blogs.

Download Challenger Mission KMZ file