Teledyne Webb Research, a business unit of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated announced today the historic completion of the first transatlantic crossing of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), a Slocum glider manufactured by the company.
The project was led by Rutgers University professors Drs. Scott Glenn, Oscar Schofield, and Josh Kohut, and was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The effort began when Dr. Richard Spinrad of NOAA challenged the Rutgers professors to complete this journey across the Atlantic with a robotic vehicle and in so doing, inspire a new generation of students to engage in oceanographic research.
The glider, dubbed Scarlet Knight, was navigated by students from the Rutgers University Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (RUCOOL) and traveled more than 4,500 miles during its 7-month voyage. Since being launched April 27, 2009, Scarlet Knight has collected measurements of ocean water salinity and temperature, transmitting the data via satellite to the lab at Rutgers. After 201 days in the water, the Scarlet Knight surfaced on November 14, 2009, in Spanish waters and was recovered on December 4, 2009, by a combined team from Rutgers, Teledyne Webb Research, and Puertos del Estado. The glider will be brought onto shore in Baiona, Spain, famous for being the landing site of Christopher Columbus' ship, the Pinta, in March 1493. A ceremony commemorating the transfer of the glider to the United States by officials from the Spanish government will be held in Baiona on December 9, 2009. Teledyne Webb Research will donate a replica of the Scarlet Knight to the city of Baiona for inclusion in its new maritime museum.
The initial concept of the underwater glider was conceived by Douglas C. Webb, the founder of Teledyne Webb Research. It was later popularized in a 1989 article in Oceanography entitled "The Slocum Mission" written by the late Dr. Henry Stommel, a renowned oceanographer and Mr. Webb's neighbor and good friend. "The historical success of this event may one day be measured in the tremendous educational and international outreach that this collaborative effort has spawned. By involving and entraining others in the exciting process of daring and discovery, we hope to share awareness about our environment and inspire a next generation of thinkers and explorers. We feel that this success is a significant step towards deploying fleets of capable, sensor-laden gliders for multi-year transoceanic operation and ultimately changing our fundamental understanding of world ocean dynamics," stated Clayton Jones, Teledyne Webb Research's Senior Director of Glider Development.
For more information about the mission of the Scarlet Knight go to http://rucool.marine.rutgers.edu/atlantic/