High Seas at Sunset During S-MODE Field Campaign
During the pilot campaign for NASA's Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) in 2021, on the transit from Oregon to the experiment site off the coast of San Francisco, large waves (some reaching around 23 feet or 7 meters tall) rolled over the deck of the research vessel Oceanus, damaging several autonomous wave gliders seen here. Scientists from across the country then assembled to repair the instruments in San Francisco harbor.
Wave gliders are one type of autonomous marine research platform deployed at sea during S-MODE's field campaigns in the Pacific Ocean. The uncrewed vessels feature a set of fins – on a submersible platform tethered to a surface float – which it uses to propel the craft around the upper ocean. The platforms carry a variety of sensors and instruments. Because they're autonomous, their use reduces the risk posed to human researchers who could be exposed to large storms at sea.
S-MODE is a NASA Earth mission to use newly developed in-situ and remote-sensing techniques to look at small-scale ocean whirlpools, eddies, and currents. The observations could help scientists better understand how these dynamics drive the give-and-take of material and energy between the ocean and atmosphere and, ultimately, help shape Earth's climate.
More information about S-MODE is at https://espo.nasa.gov/s-mode/content/S-MODE