Earth Institute Contact: Mr. Dale Chayes
The PIs propose to develop a Seafloor Sounding in Polar and Remote Regions (SSPARR) System that will enable seafloor depth soundings to be collected in regions rarely or never visited by ships. As proposed, the system will consist of a large number of expendable, battery-powered, surface drifting buoys, each containing a simple single beam depth sounder, a GPS navigation receiver, and a bi-directional satellite link. The system developed will also include the shore infrastructure to monitor the buoys, control their function and receive sounding data, perform quality checks, and archive the sounding data. The PIs will develop a system whereby the buoys could be deployed over the side of a ship or by air. They also propose that the SPARR buoy, enabled by the shore site, could be an aid to navigation for underwater vehicles, in which case the buoy will transmit its own GPS derived location via acoustic telemetry and these positions could be recorded by the underwater vehicle to aid in track reconstruction or for use in real-time navigation. This function is expected to be of particular use in remote areas where unmanned underwater vehicles may be employed for seafloor surveys. Buoys will be strategically deployed where prevailing currents will carry them into areas where depth soundings are required, and where ships seldom travel. The lifetime of a SSPARR buoy will be dependent upon repetition rate of acoustic and electromagnetic transmissions, but it is estimated that a typical buoy will have a lifetime of up to four years in echo-sounding mode and possibly only one year as a navigation aid. The PIs envision the development of SSPARR in three phases: A technology assessment and demonstration phase; full scale engineering development with parallel shore site implementation; and pilot buoy production. Test and evaluation efforts are inherent in all three phases. This proposal is the first of the three phases, technology assessment and demonstration. This effort will entail development of prototype hardware for testing in laboratory and at sea; and optimization of sonar parameters and communication protocols.
Cross Cutting Themes:
Climate and Society
National Science Foundation