These last few days have been hectic with several successes an one loss. We’ll get the bad news over with then move onto the good. Last night in an amazing feat, Matt and I finished preparing RU-21 to be deployed. Dave Aragon, the glider technician at Rutgers, figured out our software glitch with help from Peter Furey from Teledyne Webb Research. RU-21 was unique to our fleet because it had two science bays fitted with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP), backscatter pucks, and a CTD. Usually our gliders only have one. The plan for RU-21 was to go out to the Palmer Basin and search for krill layers using the ADCP while the Laurence M. Gould (LMG) did net tows to find out what zooplankton were in the water.
This research would be valuable because you could confirm how accurately the ADCP was looking at krill layers, and fill in data gaps where the ship did not tow with the glider data. We pulled all the strings we could to go out after boating hours and as far as we could safely go in order to get RU-21 to the Gould in time. Ru-21 did her first dive, then her second. All seemed well so we headed home proud of our accomplishment. The next morning we awoke to bad news that RU-21 did not call back after her 200m dive.
Matt decided to accompany the REMUS guys (Mark and Ian) out this afternoon on their deployment. Luckily the REMUS was able to retrieve data around the Gould, so part of the autonomous underwater vehicle mission was a success. Matt brought along a freewave to see if there was some possibility that the glider might be floating near by, but there wasn’t any luck. As time ticks by, the probability of RU-21 being alone in the depths of the Palmer Canyon is increasing. There’s still hope that if she is underwater she’ll blow her weight and come back up, or if shes floating she might float back to us, but the possibility is low.
Another glider that having trouble was RU-24, deployed early Monday morning. The sea was flat and the sun was out after a long stretch of gray weather. It could not have been a better day for a deployment. Matt, Ian, Mark, and I all went out to station E to throw RU-24 in the water. We watched her initial dive, then watched her sink for the second dive then headed home for lunch. Note that we did not hang around to see her surface again. As we got home Dave called and said that RU-24 did not call home after her 10 minute mission. Distraught we ate lunch in a hurry and went back out with a freewave to search for her. After about an hour or so running a line between her last GPS point and where we predicted she would float due to current, we gave up the search and went home. Our spirits were down as we figured the worst. As we got home the second time, Dave called again, and informed us that RU-24 had blown her weight and was back on the surface. We suited back up in our bright orange clumsy survival suits and made the trek back to station E. On the horizon, there she was, tail in the air! It was a glorious sight, but a rather embarrassing position for a gilder to be in. We scooped her up and brought her home.
It seems that her buoyancy pump in the front (that takes in and pushes out the water to go up and down) got stuck in the open position. This means that RU-24 took in the water in its nose and sunk, but could not push it out to come back up. She sunk down to 90 meters! Eventually when she realized something was wrong she ejected the emergency weight in her tail and came back up, and waited for us to save her. RU-24 might be out of commission for the rest of the season because of the broken pump, but we’ll see if we’re able to fix it.
Furthermore, after this long day, Matt’s glider UD-134 was waiting for her turn to shine. That night we went out again and deployed UD-134. So far she’s doing excellent, swimming around the Palmer Basin following penguin tracks and gathering data. Additionally, Travis, Garz, and Oscar on the Gould successfully recovered RU-05. They will be taking RU-05 with them to be used further south. RU-25 is still making its way down for the traditional US vs. British soccer game held at Rothera when the Gould visits. Below is a picture of some of the glider tracks shown in Google Earth to see where exactly our gliders are. If you have google earth and are interested you can track our gliders as well by downloading the KMZ files on our website.