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Features

On The Job: A
     Soldier's Story

Stem-Cell Revolution
Together We Achieve      the Extraordinary
Piano Playing Provost

Making Waves

Waves of Generosity
Masters of Disguise
The Pohutukawa Spirit
What's In A Name
Geisel in Other Guise
Water Wings
Couch Potato-thon
Cross Purpose

Archive
 

Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Water Wings

 
     

A life on the ocean waves? Apparently not for Spray, which is destined for a solitary life under the waves. This underwater glider was the first unmanned robot to cross the Gulf Stream (the warm ocean current flowing northeastward in the North Atlantic Ocean). Weighing in at 112 lbs, the six-foot-long orange vehicle with its four-foot wingspan achieves buoyancy by pumping mineral oil in and out of its two tanks, while its wings provide lift.

Last fall, Russ Davis and Jeff Sherman, ’81, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and their colleague Breck Owens from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution launched Spray just south of Nantucket Island, Mass. The underwater robot made its way—gradually—toward Bermuda, about 600 miles south. “Gradually” being the operative adverb. At 12 miles a day, the little-robotsub-that-could glided up and down as its instruments measured the temperature, salinity and density of the ocean. Surfacing every seven hours, it relayed the information back to shore via satellite.

“Oceanographic gliders are now at the stage similar to the start of aviation,” Sherman says, “but in years to come they will be commonplace.”

By May, Spray will be half way through its new adventure, a return trip to Bermuda. It is indeed the little sub that could!

Contributors to Making Waves: Jessica Demian, Raymond Hardie, Heather Henter, Evelyn Hsieh, '05, Sue Pondrom.

 

RELATED LINKS

Spray Specifications
VIEW

Scripps Institution of Oceanopgraphy
VIEW

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution VIEW

"Oceanographic gliders are now at the stage similar to the start of aviation,” Sherman says, “but in years to come they will be commonplace.”