Unmanned remote sub successfully crosses the Atlantic Ocean

NEW BRUNSWICK — After the nearly 8-foot, 134-pound, missile-shaped, yellow glider known as RU27 became the first unmanned underwater robot to cross the Atlantic Ocean this winter, university officials compared the feat to other cross-Atlantic pioneers like Charles Lindbergh and Christopher Columbus.

Now they're hoping a successor “Scarlet Knight'' can join the ranks of those who've circumnavigated the globe.

The around-the-world mission for the data-collecting device was announced by the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Science after a homecoming celebration Thursday on the College Avenue Campus. The event was attended by children from Pine Brook Elementary School in Manalapan and Village Elementary School in Montgomery.

The glider was launched from Tuckerton in Ocean County April 27, 2009, and traveled 4,594 miles and 221 days, landing in Baiona, Spain, on Dec. 7, 2009.

Its progress was tracked by schoolchildren and researchers keen on further understanding the Earth's oceans.

“Climate change, the great challenge of our age, is linked to and influenced by this great heat engine,'' said Cook Campus dean Richard Ludescher. “Understanding and predicting our planet's future requires that we finally and thoroughly map the ocean and its currents.''

The glider, made by Teledyne Webb Research, “flies'' through water by riding currents and shooting water.

President Richard L. McCormick hailed the project as an example of interdisciplinary, experiential learning, which included writers and documentary filmmakers at Rutgers Writers House.

Their 80-minute thriller, “Atlantic Crossing,'' follows the glider as it dodges currents, storms, ships, fishing nets and sea creatures. At one point in the journey, cameras capture the research crew "rescuing" and cleaning the glider in shark-filled water.

The glider team working on the new world-wide Challenger Mission – named after the 19th century British ocean expedition that led to the birth of modern oceanography – includes professors and graduate and undergraduate students from the schools of Engineering and of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

The mission's goal is to collect data on ocean changes.

“It is clear that the water cycle will be changed by 2030,'' Scott Glenn, professor of physical oceanography said. “So the point of this data collecting and the methods we're using to achieve it will be to create strategies and tactics to address these changes."

Source: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20100304/NEWS/100304054/1004/NEWS0102

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