TPOS Mission 6: June 22, 2023 - Present
TPOS Mission 6 began sea trials on May 24, 2023, with three Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) - SD1030, SD1033, SD1079 - departing from Hawaii to undergo field testing prior to their 120-day mission across the central tropical Pacific as part of an ongoing effort to improve the Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS). The official mission began on June 22, 2023, when the drones arrived at the launch site near 18°N, 155°W. This mission is in collaboration with Dr. Réka Domokos of NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) Ecosystem Services Division (ESD) to explore the value and feasibility of combining physical and fish biomass surveys of Pacific Islands Regions. Ultimately, the goal for the TPOS/NMFS/PIFSC collaboration is to better connect the life cycle with the energy, water, and carbon cycles and thereby improve ecosystem forecasts within Earth system models.
Each mission to date has highlighted the ability of USVs to make high-resolution air-sea heat, momentum, and CO2 fluxes, in addition to multidisciplinary (meteorological, oceanic physical, biogeochemical, and fish biomass) measurements, over distances ranging from meters to thousands of kilometers, providing a unique solution for sampling data-sparse regions of the tropical Pacific. During this mission, three drones will transit to the Equator along 155°W and then return along 170°W to the convectively-active Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) region north of the Equator, before returning to Hawaii. Overall, the sixth TPOS mission aims to test the Saildrone Explorer series for: (a) supplementing shipbased fish surveys, (b) frontal studies of the oceanic and atmospheric boundary layers, and (c) equatorial upwelling studies.
For more details about this mission, please visit the OCS Saildrone TPOS 2023 Mission Blog.