New additions to the Antarctic Robot family

January 10, 2011 in Palmer Station by Kaycee Coleman

Sorry for the delay, we’ve been busy getting ready for the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) cruise on the Laurence M. Gould (LMG) for the month of January down the Antarctic Peninsula.  Travis and Garz left on the 7th to join Grace Saba and Oscar Schofield on the LMG.  We had to pack up a lot of the lab and Grace’s experiment to be run on the boat, replacing filter rigs and finding other odd thing for me to use in the lab in their absence.  Luckily, I’m not alone in the lab.  Matt Oliver from the University of Delaware has joined me bringing a glider with him to join our happy Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) family.  Additionally Mark Moline and his technician Ian brought down two REMUS which we will work with in conjunction with Matt Oliver to take a better look at where penguins are foraging.  The lab has been transformed, with gliders lining all of the bench space.

RU-25 launched out at Station E with Mt. William in the background. photo credit: Carolyn

In December we deployed a glider, RU-25, for a two week mission around the Palmer area to test its performance. After successfully completing its mission RU-25 was brought in the lab, cleaned up and sent out again for its main mission traveling south. RU-25 will be leading the way, prior to the LMG,  down to Rothera, the British Antarctic Survey base on Adelaide Island.  The mission is crucial because it it helps with international relations, fills in scientific gaps where the research cruise might not go, and helps the LTER researchers make decisions on where to sample.

RU-05 was also launched yesterday.  RU-05’s mission is to meet the LMG at their first process station to be recovered and deployed further down the sample line by Travis.  With RU-21 and RU-24 close to being ready to launch, as well as UDel’s glider, we’ll soon have several gliders swimming around Palmer this week.  This sampling effort will also be strengthened by the addition of two REMUS (Remote Environmental Sampling UnitS).

The REMUS is different than the glider because it has a propeller, while the glider is buoyancy driven.  This way they have more control of where they want the AUV to go, yet having a propeller uses more batteries.  This means that a REMUS can only stay out for about 11 hours.  Another advantage of the REMUS is that it can travel about 5 knots while a glider can only travel around 0.5 knots.  Using both in conjunction with each other should give us plenty of data so study the surrounding area.

Preliminary results of our Chlorophyll A biweekly sampling efforts.

Additionally, last month we finally found the time to run all of our Chlorophyll A samples for the season thus far.  The graph to the right demonstrates the Chl. A at the surface of the water column plotted against time.  Our preliminary results show that for the most part there are higher levels of Chl. A at station B than at station E.  This could possibly be due to the fact that station B is closer inshore and is located close to a penguin colony, which could cause a higher inflow of nutrients from dust and penguin feces for the phytoplankton to live off of.

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