Tools & Technology
Scientists will be using a variety of high-tech equipment to explore the bottom of the Arctic Ocean on this expedition. The first is the icebreaker itself—the ship that allows scientists to traverse the ice-covered Arctic waters. Once the icebreaker arrives at a science “station,” the instruments will be deployed. Some of the instruments are pre-programmed robots, following a mission plan to explore the seafloor, while others communicate with the ship via a cable. Read about some of the tools and technology scientists are using to probe the icy depths.
The Arctic Ocean is covered with ice floes which range in thickness from 1-4 meters (3-12 feet). A specially designed ship is needed to withstand the crushing power of the ice.
Read more about the Oden, a Swedish icebreaker that will be the science party’s home for this 40-day expedition.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs):
On this expedition, the science party will be using two AUVs, called Puma and Jaguar, to explore the deep reaches of the Arctic Ocean. “Autonomous” means that once they are programmed aboard the ship and put into the water through a hole in the ice, they perform their mission with only minimal communication (using sound waves, or acoustics). Many hours later, they will have to find their way back to another hole in the ice and be recovered by the icebreaker.
Tethered instruments are connected to the ship through a cable, or tether. This cable allows researchers to see, in real time, what the instruments are seeing. However, this connection means that the scientists will have to be careful that the sensitive cable is not damaged by sea ice while the instrument is working far below.