Friday, August 27, 2010

Science log 2- Setting sail

One of Liquid Robotic's Wave gliders
Last night at around 9:00 we finally moved out of the Theodore dock, down Mobile Bay, and into the great expanse of the gulf. This first leg of the cruise will last 2 days, Thursday night to Saturday evening. The main purpose of this short cruise is to release the wave glider into the gulf. The wave glider is an autonomous ocean vehicle, created by a company called Liquid Robotics, and commonly described as a robot. This robot is slightly different from most in that it is uses solar energy generated by the solar panels ontop of the 'surfboard' body to power the electronics and has no motor, but is powered by waves.
The glider converts wave motion into forward thrust, thus propelling itself forward. It can travel from .5 to 2 knots depending on the roughness of the sea. The amazing thing about this piece of equipment is that it can be released into the ocean, travel long distances, and collect an array of data, ranging from weather and water temperature, water quality, marine mammal vocalizations, and even take pictures. The plan is to deploy the wave glider early in the morning and then check on it on Saturday on the way back into port. At the same time, vertical cast will occur continuing the collection of water quality data.

So after going to bed (at 12:45), I set my alarm for 5:30 in order to get up and watch the deployment. So I crawled out of bed, ate some bisquit and gravy and a to-order omellette (I swear I will gain weight with this sedentary ship life and hearty ship food), and stepped onto the deck. [Safety moment: When on the slippery deck, we must wear a life jacket, hard hat, and steel toe boots].
Once the sun finally peeked over the horizon and the rain began to drizzle we set to work deploying the glider. It was quite successful and we all watched in excitment as it moved quickly away.
All and all, I think it was a succesful deployment. Now to take a nap before my 12:00 shift.

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