Headline Jan 19, 2015/ ''' ALL STUDENTS UNDER THE SEA '''


SAILING the seven seas is old hat. The latest trick is to glide them. Sea gliders are small unmanned vessels which are now cruising the briny by the hundred.

They use a minuscule amount of power, so they can stay out for months. And, being submarines, they are rarely troubled by the vicissitudes of weather at the surface.

Their only known enemies are sharks. {Several have come back covered in tooth marks and fishing nets}.

Sea gliders are propelled by buoyancy engines. These are devices that pump oil in and out of an external bladder which, because it deflates when it is empty, means that the craft's density changes as well.

This causes the glider to ascend or sink accordingly, but because it has wings some of that vertical force is translated into horizontal movement.

Such movement is slow  -the top speed of most gliders is about half a knot- but the process is extremely efficient. That means the gliders can be sent on long missions.

In 2009, for example, a glider called  ScarletKnight,  operated by  Rutgers University, in New Jersey, crossed the Atlantic on a  single battery charge, though it took seven months to do so.

***Since that crossing,  gliders have been deployed on many unthinkable missions***. 

In 2010 teams from the American Navy,  the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and iRobot, a  robot-maker based in Bedford, Massachusetts, used them to the underwater effect of the  Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

That same year a glider owned by  Oregon  State University watched an underwater volcano erupting in the Lau basin near Tonga.

In 2011 a glider made by another firm,  Teledyne Webb of East Falmouth, also in Massachusetts, tracked seaborne radiation leaked leaked from the tsunami-damaged reactors in Fukushima, Japan.

And the University of Newfoundland is planning to use gliders equipped with sonar to inspect icebergs, to work out whether they are a threat to underwater cables and other seabed infrastructure.

Ten years ago there were fewer than  30 gliders  in the world, all built either by academy institutions or the armed forces.

Now there are at least 400, and most are made by one of the three firms : 

iRobot, whose product is called, simply  Seaglider; Teledyne Webb, which manufactures the  Slocum Glider  (named after Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail solo around the world; and Bluefin Robotics, which sells the Spray Glider.

Broadly speaking, these machines have three sorts of application: scientific, military and commercial.

At the moment science rules the roost.

For cash-strapped oceanographers, gliders are a blessing. Their running costs are negligible and, though buying one can cost as much as  $ 150,000,  that sum would purchase a mere three days of, say, a manned trip to the Southern Ocean.

Gliders, moreover, give a continuous view of what is going on, rather than the series of snapshots yielded by equipment lowered from a vessel at the surface.

Besides, tracking pollution, watching volcanoes and measuring icebergs, they are following fish around, monitoring changing temperatures, in different layers of seawater and mapping the abundance of algae.
And don't forget that its only these very  ''' sea-gliders and technology''  that can help  in locating  the downed and lost  Malaysian Airliner.

Th Honour and Serving of the operational research continues. Thank you for reading and maybe learning, some what. And see ya all on the one that follows:

With respectful dedication to all the  ''Oceanography Scientists'' in the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Search '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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