Archive for the ‘Challenger Mission’ Category

Back on Board

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

As of 7:10am EST, Challenger is back on board the Alpha Delfino and is headed back to Santos once more.  Upon first light, the team, including our friend Marcelo Dottori were on location preparing for recovery.  Then after an hour and 40 minutes, they were able to pull her on board.

Once back on land, 29 will be transported back to the University of Sao Paulo facilities where she will wait for about a week until Dave can get back down to Brazil, diagnose the issues that lead to the leak, and hopefully get her back in the water.

Once again, great job team!

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Preparing for Recovery

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

As Marcelo and his team prepare to leave port once more, the team at RUCOOL continues to maneuver 29  towards the shores of Brazil.



The ship will set sail around 8pm tonight (7pm EST) and head south east towards the potential recovery location of 24˚55'S 45˚50'W.  This location however is not fixed and is reliant on the progress 29 makes through the night as she continues up the shallowing slope towards land.



Checking Marine Traffic, it looks like we are in a relatively safe area, far from any heavily trafficked areas.

Good luck to the team down in Brazil on the recovery!

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Technical Difficulties 

Monday, July 14th, 2014

After a very rough ride out, the team managed to deploy Challenger last friday along the shelf break of the Southern Brazil Bight





Unfortunately, after the deployment the glider ran into a number of issues.  First of which being a software bug that we failed to catch and apply the fix to which prevented the glider's iridium phone from calling back to the lab at Rutgers. The second being that on a dive to 1,000m, the glider suffered a minor leak which we believe was caused by the pressure at depth.


So now this hour of urgency, we have shifted the way point back towards land as 29 fights the Brazil Current and shipping traffic in preparation for recovery.  The latest plan is for our friends in Brazil to get back on a boat and sail out wednesday or thursday depending on weather to pull her back out of the water.  We will update with the latest details as they come in

Force Wind Sea & Honor

To Cape Town!

Friday, July 11th, 2014

as of 11:27am EST RU29: Challenger is back in the water flying a 300m test mission.  If all goes well as Dave runs various tests, we will give 29 her first way point on her mission to go back across the South Atlantic Gyre to Cape Town South Africa

Great Work Team!

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Steaming Out

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon the team rejoiced as the final preparations for Challenger's deployment were capped with a celebration.

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Drs Frederico Brandini and Marcelo Dottori of the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) hosted a pre-deployment celebration aboard the Alpha Delfino that included a number of members of USP, the deployment team and the media.

Later that night the ship left port in Santos for a 10 hour steam to the shelf break where 29 will deployed in deep water as to try and conserve as much battery power as possible.

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Reports from the field are that the seas a very rough, so the deployment will take place from the side of the boat instead of deploying from the zodiac.  Divers will most likely stay on board as well unless the conditions calm down significantly

Good luck out there guys!

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Until Next Time

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

It looks like this is how Challenger will remain for the time being: a skeleton


A decision has been made and it looks like our team will come home and return to Brazil a ways down the road to get 29 back in the water.

A number of developments over the past week have led to this conclusion. First of which, we don't have the R/V Alpha Delfino that we used for recovery. The ship is sill in Santos as the University has gone on strike.  Without the Delfino or it's crew, we are left without a vessel capable of getting us to deep water for the deployment.

The trilux 33 paint  that worked so beautifully on RU29 to keep her free of barnacles and other biological growth over the previous mission is still stuck in customs.  After searching local boating stores, it was discovered that the product is extremely rare in Brazil and it is unlikely that we will find any in a timely manner

Without a deployment in deep water and lacking the bio foul paint, we will really be pushing the limits of the battery packs as we attempt to cross back to Cape Town.  In the shallows, battery consumption is 2-3 times more than flying to the full 1000 m depth.  Coupled with the increased time in productive waters, the odds will be stacked against us.

So for now the deployment will be delayed until further notice.  The parts that need repairs have been packed in Scott and Chip's luggage and hopefully by the time they travel back down in the coming weeks the batteries and paint will be released from customs and ready and waiting for us in Ubatuba.

Stay tuned for updates on the redeployment in the near future. Great work team!

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Glider Analysis

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Now that we have 29 on the bench, its time for the analysis to begin.

First off, upon recovery, it was discovered that we had some minor growth on the hulls:

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Overall the growth was pretty minimal for a glider at sea for 188 days as there were a handful of small barnacles scattered over the hull- most likely attained during the 3 weeks spent in the shallows during the approach.

The main concern however is corrosion...

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Although the hull of the glider is composed of carbon fiber, the ends are capped with aluminum rings. Three of the five rings on our global class glider (containing the extended battery bay) suffered from corrosion. The two rings attached to the payload bay however did not suffer the same fate.  It looks like these sections will have to be replaced before redeployment.

The pitch battery mount also is scraping as it moves fore and back causing metal filings to fall in the hull.

The team will continue to work on Challenger through the remainder of the week and spit ball ideas about how we can proceed.

Force Wind Sea & Honor

Getting Through Customs

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Good news everyone!

After a long day of preparing the work area for RU29's arrival and writing proposals for future work at the field station of the University of Sao Paulo, Scott and Chip called it a day and walked down to a small sushi place along the water.  On the way, they recieved an email from Marcelo: the glider had made it through customs!!

Tomorrow morning, Challenger will travel by truck from Santos where the customs facility is located to Ubatuba where Chip and Scott will get to work preparing her for redeployment weds/thurs of this week!  They will definitely have their work cut out for them over the next few days as they make the necessary repairs to prepare 29 for her longest trip yet, back to Cape Town.

photo by Chip Haldeman

photo by Chip Haldeman

Force Wind Sea & Honor

The Bear is in the Igloo

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Congratulations team! RU29 has officially been recovered after completing the second leg of the South Atlantic Crossing!!


The recovery location

Approaching Alpha Delphini on the morning of May 18

Approaching Alpha Delphini on the morning of May 18

Alpha Delphini, RU29 and calm seas for recovery

Alpha Delphini, RU29 and calm seas for recovery

USP Professor Marcelo Dottori in the recovery Zodiac

USP Professor Marcelo Dottori in the recovery Zodiac

The worst of the biological growth

The worst of the biological growth

RU29 in the Zodiac with USP Zodiac operator alongside the Alpha Delphini

RU29 in the Zodiac with USP Zodiac operator alongside the Alpha Delphini

Captain (far left) and crew of the Alpha Delphini with RU29 on deck after the successful recovery

Captain (far left) and crew of the Alpha Delphini with RU29 on deck after the successful recovery


The South Atlantic Crossing

Again excellent work team and a special thanks to all of our partners that made this success possible.  Now on to customs.

Force Wind Sea & Honor

On location in Ubatuba

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

In preparation for the recovery early tomorrow morning, Scott and Chip took a trip out to the ship that will be used for the operation.  It is a larger ship than can dock in the area, so it gets parked close by and a zodiac is used to load.

view from the zodiac ride out to the USP RV Alpha Delphini

view from the zodiac ride out to the USP RV Alpha Delphini

Upon arriving at the boat, they took to the bridge to see where they would set up the equipment to communicate with the glider once on location.


View of the bridge aboard the Alpha Delphini

View of the bridge aboard the Alpha Delphini


View of the A-frame

View of the A-frame

Once on location, the plan will be to get the glider on a cart into the zodiac and then use the A-frame to transfer the glider from the zodiac to the aft deck.  Once on board, the team will then return to the shore lab, and the glider will be sailed south to Santos where it will be handed over to be inspected by customs on monday.  If it clears customs,  29 will be transported back to the shore lab by truck monday night (hopefully) or tuesday morning (more likely) where Scott and Chip will then get to work preparing her for the next leg.

Assessing the situation and getting the work done as quickly as possible is crucial as we need to leave the dock wednesday and try to get way offshore.  Running the numbers for distance vs battery life on the upcoming leg, there is not a lot of wiggle room.  Each day in shallow water looks to be equivalent to about 2.5 days in deep, so we need to minimize the amount of time spent in the shallows as much as possible.


Tomorrow will be an early morning for our team both in the field and providing shore support.  To them we wish good luck

Force Wind Sea & Honor