Scientists Set to Launch Historic Glider Mission
Scientists at Rutgers University are set to launch a historic mission. The Challenger Glider Mission is a globally coordinated mission to use gliders to sample deep oceans. The mission will include 16 virtually simultaneous flights. These flights mirror the HMS Challengers original route. The mission will create a new global culture of collaboration among oceanographers and climate change specialists for the shared goal of better understanding the oceans. Rutgers is working with other universities, industry partners and government representatives to identify, train, and coordinate management of the project. Ideally, Rutgers’ partners for the Challenger Glider Mission will include faculty and oceanography students from each part of the globe where gliders will launch – North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The test missions emerged in response to a 2009 challenge issued by Dr. Rick Spinrad, former NOAA assistant administrator and current chairman of the IOOS Federal Advisory Committee, to send a glider around the world. Dr. Spinrad suggested that the glider follow the path of the HMS Challenger, the first vessel to circumnavigate the globe on a marine research expedition, which took place in the 1870s. Gliders collect data about marine environments, such as water currents, temperature, and conditions that reveal the effects of storms on fisheries and water quality. This information gives scientists a more complete picture of what is happening in the ocean, and may help detect trends in ocean characteristics. The results are better forecasts and models that improve safety, boost the economy, and protect the environment. As a cost-effective, low-risk method of collecting marine data at various depths, gliders are revolutionizing ocean observations. The scientists launched the Slocum Glider on Jan. 12 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. The glider is charted to cross the world and end in Norway. It will make a few stops along the way in Brazil and the Caribbean for checkups and fresh batteries.