An underwater glider is a buoyant Autonomous Underwater Vehicle that collects oceanographic information at varying depths over time by traveling along a pre-planned trajectory as they rise and float, relaying data to sites on the surface at regular intervals. The low power consumption of the vehicles allows them to remain in the field for much longer than most oceanographic data-collecting AUVs, providing a greater range of data than is typically available from AUVs or ship-board collection.
The Spray underwater glider was first developed by Scripps and Woods Hole scientists with support from ONR for long-range oceanographic missions in 1999. Spray gliders are battery-powered, rudderless vehicles capable of operating up to 1500 m depth; Typical sensors onboard include CTDs, fluorometers, altimeters, optical backscatter sensors, and / or ADCPs.
For deployments in Southern California, Spray gliders cycle from the surface to 500 m depth, traveling 3 km in the horizontal in 3 hours. Spray's horizontal velocity is about 0.25 m/s while its vertical velocity is roughly 0.1 m/s. The gliders have GPS and Iridium antennas in each wing, so when a Spray glider is on the surface it rolls 90 deg to obtain a GPS fix and communicate. During communications, Spray sends data to shore, and shore-based pilots can change mission parameters such as waypoints and dive depth. Typical deployment duration in Southern California is about 3 months.
The SIO IDG group provides Spray Glider data from select missions in the Southern California Bight to SCCOOS for additional analysis purposes and map visualization.
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