Archive for August 10th, 2011

-Chewie… we’ve hit Lightspeed! Celebrations, Recap & Record Smashing

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

'Afternoon everyone,

Yesterday was a big day for us here at IMCS, we were honored with a visit from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Dr. Kathy Sullivan and Director of the Integrated Oceans Observing System (IOOS) Dr. Zdenka Willis, along with a number of other high ranking government officials.  After a tour and discussion of the glider lab, COOL room, and the Challenger Mission (which consisted of a skype call with our partners at PLOCAN), everyone proceeded to the Alampi Room.  There, various awards were given out for Rutgers appreciation and collaboration and Dr. Sullivan even presented us with an award for the success of the Atlantic Crossing and luck on the completion of the Challenger Mission.

Scott Glenn, Zdenka Willis and Kathryn Sullivan touring the COOL room

Our friends at PLOCAN (including past students of the COOL room, Dara, Adri and Alvaro)during a skype session while our visitors were here.

But back to Challenger 1.  There has been a lot that has happened piloting wise over the past two weeks so first we would just like to do a quick re-cap.

Jumping back a bit, we were entering a new solar system, which we carved a path straight through the middle where we snaked back and forth jumping from one eddy to the next.

Moving on from there, we found a strong warm core eddy, the "warm planet" that really slowed our progress as we were dragged nearly directly to the west as we were pulled into it's strong clockwise gyre.

This was then followed by our encounter with a "Mystery Eddy" on Sunday that again caught us off guard with its strength, reminding us that the ocean is a formidable foe that is still widely unknown and which should not be underestimated.

These were all very good learning experiences that will aid us on the remaining 75% of our journey.  Antonio pointed out after we were liberated from the allure of the mystery eddy, that when we cross the west side of a cold eddy (general counter clockwise), it seems that the currents we observed (as we crossed the past two solar systems) is going to the North- North/West direction, flowing in the same direction as the thermohaline pattern, but do not completely follow what the models say the currents should be.  However, when we fly on the eastern side of a warm eddythe currents agree with what the models predict, going East-South/East (clockwise motion) and thus opposite of the North-North/West thermohaline flow we see in this region.  The result of both of the counter currents we see is to the south, which are the currents we must ride until we find more favorable currents. This explains the trouble we were having when it came to flying to the west side of a cold eddy and our experience with the mystery eddy.

The North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation showing the N-NW flow in our area that we have dealt with recently

So what we have to look for now, is to aim for the eastern side of the warm eddies, where we have found much better luck propulsion wise versus catching the western side of a cold eddy.  This however we think will change when we reach the Canary current, where we should find better luck on the western edge of a cold eddy.

After this break through, Monday we saw some strong currents to our south east that we thought may be ideal so we began looking into the changing of the way point for Challenger 1.

Our two options for waypoints. Yellow would be the range we followed keeping the waypoint, Green if we changed it

After much discussion, Antonio and I decided we should move our way point further east and aim for the stronger currents we saw to the south east of our position.  Below we can see the strong currents turning from east to south/east as it curves around the large red-yellow swirl to our south.

With this way point move, Challenger went from being a glider to a rocket ship as we broke our previous speed record not once, or twice, but on our past 4 segments!

The first two segments that broke our speed record


Previously, we were holding a record of 0.47 m/s, but on our past 4 surfacings, we blasted that away going 0.52m/s on the first two segments and the most recent two at 0.53 m/s!

Now we look to the near future to see when the next plan of action shall take place.  As the conditions are now, when Challenger gets to the vicinity of the circle drawn on the map above, we will move the way point back to the south to  try and take the most advantage of favorable currents.

As always, force, wind, sea and honor

Nilsen Strandskov, Antonio Ramos, and Oliver Ho