IRELAND'S Marine Institute helped with the recovery of an unmanned deep-sea drone off the Cork coast this month which had spent the last year crossing the Atlantic.
The glider, called SILBO, was deployed from Falmouth, Massachusetts last April. It was sent on a mission to cross the North Atlantic with little human assistance to gather data from the ocean.
The Marine Institute's remotely operated vehicle and glider support team of P&O Maritime, assisted Teledyne Webb Research USA, with the recovery of SILBO off Baltimore on March 9.
SILBO is one of 16 gliders undertaking 128,000 km of coordinated surveys around the five global ocean basins.
Gliders look like torpedoes but instead of propellers or an engine they instead rely on a movable internal ballast and external moveable fins to move across the ocean.
They contain large battery packs to power the movement of the fins and change the internal ballast, these batteries also power the glider sensor payload for ocean monitoring.
Each glider will fly a designated 6,000 – 8,000km leg following an ocean current.
"Gliders like SILBO are equipped with a variety of sensors that enable scientists to monitor the ocean temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean conditions as well as offering a picture of places in the ocean that traditDeep Sea Glider - SILBOional satellites and research vessels may not be able to," explained Aodhan Fitzgerald, RV operations manager at the Marine Institute.
"By contributing real-time data to a global portal, deep-sea gliders enable marine scientists to mutually benefit by creating a better assessment and understanding of the ocean and evaluating the ocean environment."
The Marine Institute is currently developing its capacity to use gliders as they are an important tool for marine scientists to study and map the dynamic features of the ocean.
SILBO will be used for a training session led by Teledyne at the Marine Institute's facilities in Galway. This will involve Irish and International technicians learning how to overhaul the glider and prepare it for its next mission before it is re-deployed from Irish shores.