Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Thursday 5 March 2015

Deploying the large yellow torpedo!

Louis Byrne, British Oceanographic Data Centre, NOC

Thursday was an exciting day for this cruise as we were finally able to deploy Autosub3, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) which looks like a large yellow torpedo. Autosub3 was developed at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, and can be pre-programmed to survey a site for over 24 hours at a time. For this cruise the main objective of Autosub3 was to collect images of the seabed at the 4 sampling stations to look for what animals are living on the different sediment types.

This is done by pre-programming the vehicle to complete a mission in a ‘lawn mower’ style pattern where images are taken along 5km tracks at more than one per second!! Meaning thousands of images are collected in one mission. We are also able to collect information on the seabed morphology using two different scientific methods (bathymetry and sidescan) allowing the creation of biological map. This is a new method being used for monitoring of Marine protected areas and thus is at the cutting edge of science.

 Mini-STABLE deployment (photo by Richard Cooke)

Autosub was the first instrument deployed at Site G, which is approximately 26 miles west of site A. Once in the water we returned to Site A to deploy a Lander called ‘Mini-STABLE’.  Landers are pieces are frames which sit on the seabed at a given location and dependent on the needs of the study have different instruments attached. The instruments attached to this particular instrument are being used to measure sediment transport. Autosub and Mini-STABLE are two high tech pieces of equipment, and illustrate how the ocean can be investigated in different ways dependent on what you are trying to find out.

Recovery of Autosub3 (photo by Richard Cooke)

After deploying Mini-STABLE we travelled back to Site G to pick up Autosub3 after its mission.

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