April 15, 2024
Uncrewed underwater vehicle missing beneath 'Doomsday Glacier'


There is a mystery under the water in Antarctica. An uncrewed underwater vehicle named ran Disappeared while exploring a famous glacier. A weekend expedition beneath Thwaites Glacier – a massive ice sheet in Western Antarctica – did not return a valuable piece of equipment.

loss of ran It is a blow to ongoing research into the glacier, known as Doomsday Glacier, into how it could potentially contribute to catastrophic sea-level rise if it collapsed. Thwaites is at risk from warming ocean waters due to climate change. The glacier stores enough water to raise sea levels by more than two feet. Sea level rise contributes to flooding and land loss in coastal communities.

ran Gave scientists a rare view of what was happening beneath the ice shelf as they tried to understand the glacier’s rapid retreat. “Even if you look at the melting and movement of ice from satellite data ran “We get close-up images of the bottom of the ice and insight into what mechanisms are responsible for the ice melting,” oceanographer Anna Wahlin from the University of Gothenburg said in a statement on January 31. Swedish university owned and operated ran,

ran An AUV is an autonomous underwater vehicle. This makes it different from an ROV, which is a remotely operated vehicle. An AUV is given pre-programmed instructions for its explorations while an ROV is operated by humans in real time. ran “Compared to ROVs, it moves faster and can therefore cover longer distances in less time,” the university said in an AUV lecturer. There are only a few such research vehicles ran In this world.

The AUV was being operated from a South Korean research vessel araon, ran Went missing after a successful dive in early January. It did not reappear at its programmed rendezvous point after its final dive. The ship searched for the vehicle along with helicopters and drones. “This time, ranThe batteries are dead,” Wahlin said. “We all know that something unexpected happened under the ice. We suspect it got into trouble, and then something kept it from getting out.

This is not a small ship. ran Length is approximately 25 feet and weight is approximately 4,080 pounds. It was the first spacecraft to land below Thwaites Glacier in 2019. It collected data on currents, temperatures and chemical properties from beneath the ice. Researchers also used the vehicle to study the ocean floor and trace the retreat of glaciers through history.

The original purchase price of the AUV was more than $3.6 million. University hopes to replace ran to continue its research with a new AUV, but it will need to raise money to cover the gap between insurance payments and the cost of the current technology.

Exploring the glacier is not easy. ran Operated in challenging conditions under ice up to 1,640 feet thick. The autonomous nature of the vehicle meant that it was out of contact with its host research vessel when it went missing. What happened during the AUV’s final journey may never be answered. “Personally, I think this is a better ending than having an AUV aging out gathering dust in the garage,” Wahlin said. “At the same time, it’s certainly a huge loss.”

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