Archive for the ‘Challenger Mission’ Category

Turning Back towards Shore

Friday, November 21st, 2014

After roughly a day and a half at sea, Challenger reported back with one of the worst messages possible (second to no contact at all that is): an abort triggered by the leak detect.


Similar to the previous deployment in July out of Santos, RU29's leak detect mechanism was triggered at depth resulting in the glider returning back to the surface to report on the matter.  David Aragon then spent a significant amount of time running tests on the glider resulting in the decision to turn the glider back towards shore.

29 will now spend the weekend weaving her way back to the North West, where early next week a team will depart from the University of Sao Paulo, recover the glider, and report back to us on the gliders condition so we can than make further plans from there.  But we will have more on that next week as the events transpire.

On another note, the images from the deployment of RU29 and USP03 are now online! Below are a select few but the full set can be viewed on our flickr page

Marcelo Dottori (U. Sao Paulo), Antonio Godoi (U. Sao Paulo), David Aragon (Rutgers), Chip Haldeman (Rutgers), Maisa Santos (Brazilian Navy), Scott Glenn (Rutgers), RU29 and USP03 in front of the Instituto Oceanografico, University Sao Paulo

Marcelo Dottori (U. Sao Paulo), Antonio Godoi (U. Sao Paulo), David Aragon (Rutgers), Chip Haldeman (Rutgers), Maisa Santos (Brazilian Navy), Scott Glenn (Rutgers), RU29 and USP03 in front of the Instituto Oceanografico, University Sao Paulo

Close up of USP03

Close up of USP03

RU29 completing a test dive

RU29 completing a test dive


And just as a reminder,  we are moving to a new location!  In order to consolidate the information on the Challenger Glider Mission and ensure the most information possible is accessible to our readers, we have opened our new blog at

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Ready Player One

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

After months of sitting in pieces being worked on in labs ranging from the University of Sao Paulo to Teledyne Webb Research and Rutgers University, RU29 is back in the game.  David Aragon and Chip Haldeman spent roughly a week down in the USP facilities after gathering up all of her parts, where they then assembled Challenger and prepared her for her next mission- a feat that wouldn't have been possible without the help of our friends at both the university in Brazil and at TWR.


Early Monday morning (Nov 17, 2014), the boat departed Ubatuba around 5:30am (2:30am EST) and within a few hours the glider was deployed amongst the rolling swell of the sea, off of the Southern Brazil Bight.


Now following the line dubbed the Ilhabela Line (Native for Beautiful Island after the island near to the deployment team's departure point), Challenger will fly across the shelf before we eventually hit deep water and aim our sights on Cape Town.





For video of the deployment and initial test, click here

There is also some great news from our friends at Teledyne Webb Research on the other Challenger Mission Glider, Silbo.  After drifting at the surface for roughly 72 days and being rescued by fisherman off the coast of Barbados in August of 2013, Silbo has undergone a lengthy refurbishment process during which amongst a number of other upgrades, he has received a new pump and thruster system.  Soon he will be deployed for an off shelf test out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts where the new rig will be tested thoroughly before we set forth on the next North Atlantic Mission: spanning from North America across the northern region of the ocean basin towards our partners in Ireland and the United Kingdom and eventually Svalbard, Norway.

Finally, we are moving to a new location!  In order to consolidate the information on the Challenger Glider Mission and ensure the most information possible is accessible to our readers, we have opened our new blog at

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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.

IMG_1648 (Large)


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!

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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:

DSCN2623 DSCN2650

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...

DSCN1828 DSCN1912 DSCN1924 DSCN1934

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.

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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

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