Saildrone ATL2MED Mission

Quantifying ocean eddies & CO2 from the Atlantic to the Med, sponsored by PEAK6

3,200 nautical miles of survey, from Cabo Verde to Trieste

From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean

Saildrone unmanned surface vehicles (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, saildrones can perform missions up to 12 months in the harshest ocean conditions without disturbing the marine ecosystem they are surveying.

Two Saildrone USVs, known as SD 1030 and SD 1053, were launched from the Canary Islands on October 18, 2019. The mission is expected to conclude in Trieste, Italy, on the Adriatic Sea in March 2020.

ATL2MED will consist of two main phases.

Phase 1: The vehicles will first sail south toward Cabo Verde where they will complete an eddy survey of the Canary Current Upwelling System (CanCS) off West Africa led by the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR).

Phase 2: The saildrones will take CO2 measurements and perform cross-calibrations with European Research Infrastructure (RI), a series of ocean moorings managed by Spain, France, and Italy, led by the Integrated Carbon Observation System, Ocean Thematic Center (ICOS OTC).

Bringing Together the Ocean Science Community

The ATL2MED mission represents Saildrone’s commitment to the power of the public-private partnership model.

ATL2MED is generously sponsored by PEAK6, a private technology and investment firm started by Jenny Just and Matt Hulsizer. By supporting the ATL2MED mission, PEAK6 seeks to catalyze world-class science, encouraging participants to think differently and use cutting-edge technology to accelerate new insights about our oceans that impact humanity.

Scientists from 12 oceanographic research institutions from seven countries are providing inputs into the mission plan, as the two saildrones move through the phases of the ATL2MED cruise. Saildrone and the participating research organizations are contributing to the mission through a combination of financial and in-kind contributions. 

Collecting Critical Ocean Variables

Saildrone is collaborating with scientific experts to collect high-quality data related to Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) and Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) during the 3,200 nautical mile mission from Cabo Verde to the Mediterranean.

Measuring CO2

Saildrones are measuring the rate of CO2 absorption  by the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea using the high accuracy ASVCO2 sensor developed by NOAA PMEL.


Saildrones are collecting cross-calibration data at nine observing stations to validate in-situ CO2 measurements taken from European moorings with a various sensors.

Eddy surveys

Saildrones are surveying eddies in the Canary Current Upwelling System to understand the transport of biogeochemical properties and biomass distribution.

Quantifying ecosystems

Saildrones are using their full suite of metocean sensors to collect valuable data for weather forecasting and ecosystem modeling.


Follow Along with Live Mission Updates

You can follow the progress of SD 1030 and SD 1053 using the interactive map below, along with mission updates, and in-depth blog posts.


Welcome to the Med!

At 16:16 UTC, SD 1030 and SD 1053 successfully transited from the Atlantic Ocean into the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar! Next stop, the Balearic Islands!


The rock

Saildrone's first onboard view of the Rock of Gibraltar!


And they're off!

SD 1030 and SD 1053 have begun their passage through the Strait of Gibraltar, escorted by the Spanish Armada and a research vessel from the University of Cadiz!


Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar tonight!

SD 1030 and SD 1053 are in a holding pattern in the Atlantic Ocean just west of the Strait of Gibraltar. The passage will begin at 0600 UTC!

Latest News

Here are the latest ATL2MED mission updates

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Two saildrones collected oceanographic and biogeochemical data filling observational gaps in a particularly dynamic region of the Western Mediterranean Sea.

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SD 1030 and SD 1053 reverse the path of the ancient mariners, entering the Mediterranean Sea through the Pillars of Hercules.

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The Canary Islands’ ESTOC site is one of nine fixed ocean stations in the Atlantic and Mediterranean where saildrones will collect in situ measurements for cross-calibration and validation.

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