OCS Saildrone Mission Blog - TPOS Mission 2
This mission is supported by NOAA GOMO (formerly OOMD), NOAA OMAO, and Saildrone, Inc.
Plans Change, Saildrones Adapt
October 11, 2018
Saildrones navigated boxes (red track lines) around a buoy on the north side of Oahu to validate measurements before starting the science mission.
One of the greatest strengths of the Saildrone vehicles is their adaptability. And they had to use that strength right out of the gate for this mission.
After the launch last Thursday, the Saildrones were scheduled to do some initial testing just offshore of Hawaii. There turned out to be too much commercial and recreational boater traffic in the planned work area. So, plans changed.
The Saildrone pilot redirected the drones to a new area, and PMEL scientists adapted their testing plans. The major goals of the tests were still successfully accomplished, just in a different location.
These pre-mission tests included performing a series of checks for the Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). The ADCP measures the currents in the surface ocean, to a depth of about 80m (260ft.). Measuring currents from a platform that is moving through the water is tricky business, and these initial tests help to ensure the measurements are being made correctly.
The Saildrones also visited a buoy on the north side of Oahu, sailing boxes around the buoy for hours (image above). Measurements made by the Saildrone instruments during this visit were compared to the instruments on the buoy. Particularly, the systems that measure carbon dioxide levels in the air and water were validated. This is one more way to check that all Saildrone systems are functioning properly before heading out on the science mission.
The comparisons all looked great, and the Saildrones are now headed to the tropics!
October 6, 2018
A dolphin keeping one of the Saildrones company in Kaneohe Bay.
Look what the cameras on one of the Saildrones just captured! Looks like a dolphin is swimming along next to one of the drones as it's collecting data in Kaneohe Bay.
October 3, 2018
The Saildrone is a new kind of ocean research platform. (Photo credit: Saildrone, Inc.)
Hello students in Ms. Keene's Florida classroom!
One of your classmates called me up and told me that she wanted to share the information about our Saildrone mission in her class presentation today. This page used to be just a placeholder, showing that the drones would launch on October 3rd, which would be perfect timing for her talk. But, I'm sorry to say, the launch is happening in Hawaii, and with the time difference, your class will be over before the big event happens.
To help your friend out, I promised to post something here for you guys anyway. Let me tell you what's going to happen:
Later today, four Saildrones will be launched from Keehi Marine Center in Honolulu, HI to begin a six-month research mission in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
The Saildrone is an unmanned science vehicle that is propelled only by wind. It also uses solar energy to power scientific instruments. The instruments onboard measure things like air and water temperatures, winds, light and heat from the sun, as well as the seawater salinity, and the speed and direction of the ocean currents. There is also an instrument package that will measure the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air and the ocean. Measuring these parameters helps scientists to learn more about how they each play a part in the Earth's climate and weather patterns.
This mission is the second in a series of three planned Saildrone missions to the tropical Pacific to study the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. (Read that ENSO article I linked. You'll like it!) ENSO is one of the most influential climate phenomena on Earth, and there is still a lot to be learned about how it works. On this mission, the Saildrones may even capture the start of an "El Niño" phase of ENSO, when the surface ocean temperatures become warmer than average. The goal is to better understand interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and improve long-term forecasts.
After a successful first mission in 2017, this mission will focus on the ability of the Saildrone to make observations along the equator. The exact course of the drones will be decided by scientists during the mission, depending on conditions and events observed at the time. The vehicles can be remotely controlled while they're underway, and can be programed to sail a route autonomously. If this mission goes well, the Saildrone platform may be considered to become a part of the larger Tropical Pacific Observing System (TPOS).
There are bound to be surprises, and interesting things learned along the way. Be sure to check back here for updates during the mission.
I'm so glad you're here to learn about this project! I think this presentation deserves an A+.
This blog page is maintained by Jennifer Keene.