tropical PACIFIC MONITORING

Augmenting THE TROPICAL PACIFIC OBSERVATION SYSTEM

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MISSION DESCRIPTION

Saildrone is currently undertaking a three year study in collaboration with NOAA to evaluate Saildrone Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) operations and capabilities in the Equatorial Pacific.

2015
The purpose of the mission was to demonstrate transit time from California to the TAO tropical array, and conduct buoy inter-comparison and assess navigational precision in the strong surface currents and light winds. SD127 took 45 days from San Francisco to reach the array at 8° North. Buoy measurements were successfully duplicated at buoys 2°N and 2°S. This USV then continued to transit South to explore the Southern Pacific conditions. In total, the Saildrone USV travelled 7,000 nautical miles in 120 days.

2017
This journey to the buoy array was made in partnership with NOAA PMEL. A fleet of two Saildrone USVs sailed from San Francisco to the Equator. En route to the TAO array, these USVs  participated in the NASA SPURS-2 program, providing real-time data that helped scientists understand salinity mixing processes for satellite calibration. The fleet then progressed to circle various buoys of the TAO/TRITON array, carrying a sophisticated suite of sensors for air/sea interaction studies, including ADCP, high frequency wind and radiometers. The Saildrone USVs also carried a pCO2 sensor to study carbon exchanges across the surface. These USVs sailed unassisted for over 240 days, collecting data for over 28,000 km.

TIMEFRAME

2015-2016-2017-2018

SCIENCE PUBLICATIONS >

Many of the  ocean buoys in the Tropical Pacific Observation System are reaching the end of their useful life, putting critical seasonal predictions at risk. (photo credit: Nature)

Saildrone collecting data along the TAO/TRITON array (photo credit: Saildrone)