NASA’s S-MODE mission launches its first deployment
After a successful test in May, a NASA campaign deploys planes, a research vessel, and several types of autonomous ocean robots to study small ocean eddies, eddies, and currents.
Using instruments at sea and in the sky, the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) team aims to understand the role that these ocean processes play in vertical transport, the movement of heat, nutrients, oxygen and carbon from the ocean surface. to the deeper ocean layers below. Additionally, scientists believe that these small-scale oceanic features play an important role in the exchange of heat and gas between air and sea. Understanding the dynamics of small-scale oceans will help scientists better understand how them. Earth’s oceans slow the impact of global warming and impact the Earth’s climate system.
On October 19, the National Science Foundation-owned research vessel Oceanus set sail for an area some 100 nautical miles off the coast of San Francisco, accompanied by a fleet of several types of research vehicles. autonomous navies. Over the next three weeks, two planes will also repeatedly fly overhead to collect measurements from above while the ship and autonomous vehicles will sample the ocean below. The eye-to-sky perspective of the aircraft will allow the team to monitor much of the ocean at once, as well as direct the research vessel and autonomous ocean vehicles through the water to move toward areas of interest.
“The overall goal is to understand vertical transport in the ocean and the relationship between remote sensing measurements and in situ, or ‘wet’ measurements,” said Dragana Perkovic-Martin, radar systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Southern California.
Aerial views of the ocean surface
From its vantage point 28,000 feet in the air aboard NASA’s Armstrong King Air B200, the DopplerScatt instrument bounces radar signals off the ocean to provide information on surface winds and currents . The MASS instrument aboard the DHC6 Twin Otter aircraft flies under the clouds to observe how surface waves move and break. It collects measurements with a complex suite of laser and imaging devices, which allow the team to infer ocean currents from those measurements.
“The aircraft’s instruments provide spatial observations but cannot penetrate the ocean surface, while the autonomous vehicles and the ship provide in situ data which will give profiles of the ocean,” said Luc Lenain , oceanographer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. Used together, this data shows what is happening on an area of the ocean surface and in the depths below.
All aboard the R / V Oceanus
While the aircraft collects data on wind, currents and ocean properties from the sky, the ship will take similar measurements from the ocean surface. “Since observations of ocean currents from aircraft are relatively new, we want to know how they relate to our traditional methods of studying the ocean,” said Andrey Shcherbina, oceanographer at the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington. and chief scientist. on the R / V Oceanus.
The ship will also serve as a launch point for a small fleet of several types of autonomous ocean vehicles. The Four Wave Gliders – essentially surfboards with a suite of science instruments on board – will rise and fall to the surface to propel themselves around the study area. Several Saildrones will depart from San Francisco Bay to join the fleet collecting data at the study site. Saildrones and Wave Gliders will measure a wide range of factors such as ocean currents, wind speed and direction, air and water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll content .
Two types of trackers will float freely in the water, providing information about where and how currents move and interact. Dinghies stay on the surface, while Lagrangian floats follow underwater ocean currents in three dimensions.
With all of these instruments working in coordination with each other, with the ship, and with the aircraft, the team hopes to capture ocean currents and rapidly changing properties in the study area. “Our best bet is to have a lot of instruments sampling this little patch of ocean so that we have a full, multifaceted view,” Shcherbina said. From this data, the team hopes to learn more about small-scale ocean movements and how these movements can move heat, nutrients and gases in the ocean and between air and sea.
NASA’s S-MODE soars through the air and over the sea to study ocean eddies
Quote: Instruments in the sea and the sky: NASA’s S-MODE mission launches 1st deployment (2021, October 27) retrieved October 27, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-10-instruments-sea -sky-nasa- s-mode.html
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