A Scientific Voyage of Global Significance
Saildrone USVs provide an unprecedented opportunity to learn about distant marine environments. Powered by wind and solar energy and equipped with an array of instruments to monitor ocean and atmospheric conditions, three saildrones departed New Zealand on an epic voyage: the first-ever autonomous circumnavigation of Antarctica, with the generous support of the Li Ka Shing Foundation of Hong Kong.
The vehicle known as SD-1020 departed on January 19, 2019, followed by SD-1022 and SD-1023 which were launched on May 9, 2019.
Scientists from around the globe are providing inputs into the mission plan as the saildrones explore the Southern Ocean’s diverse ecosystem, studying topics ranging from krill abundance and penguin behavior to carbon fluxes and ocean acidification.
Bringing Antarctica to the Classroom
Students, as part of their class or individually, can follow along with the mission on this website. Explore real-time data and imagery sent by satellite, and learn about Antarctic krill, penguins, and the importance of phytoplankton. Along the way several contests took place, with students submitting their creative designs for saildrone wings and making short videos about 'How Antarctica affects me'.
Teachers can access a series of STEM-oriented developed by the 1851 Trust, a UK-based education charity committed to inspiring young people to become future innovators and environmental stewards. The curriculum is offered free of charge to teachers around the world for use in their classrooms, along with with the interactive mission map and weekly blog posts.
A Global Scientific Collaboration
Saildrone is collaborating with scientific experts from around the globe to guide the vehicles along the way and address some of the key scientific objectives listed below.
Surveying krill abundance
Saildrones are collecting krill abundance data using their echo sounders to investigate the pressures krill face from a changing environment.
Tracking tagged animals
Saildrones are characterizing areas where tagged penguins and seals feed to study the relationship between predators and prey.
Saildrones are measuring the rate of CO2 absorption and/or emission by the Southern Ocean with scientific precision.
Saildrones are using their full suite of metocean sensors to collect valuable data for weather forecasting and ecosystem modeling.