'Boaty McBoatface' sub survives ice mission

'Boaty McBoatface' sub survives ice mission
From BBC - March 12, 2018

"Boaty McBoatface" has executed its most daring dive yet.

The nation's favourite yellow submarine swam under a near-600m thick ice shelf in the Antarctic, returning safely to its launch ship after 48 hours away.

It was an important test for the novel autonomous vehicle, which was developed at the UK's National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

Boaty's handlers now plan even more arduous expeditions for the sub in the years ahead.

This includes a traverse under the sea-ice that caps the Arctic Ocean.

"The reason this mission under the Filchner Ice Shelf in the Antarctic is so significant is that it proves the concept of the new Boaty long-range vehicle being able to do this kind of work," explained Prof Russell Wynn, the chief scientist for NOC's marine autonomous and robotic systems.

"Although this was only a 48-hour mission, it was very high risk because of the nature of the environment.

"I could very easily have been talking to you now having lost Boaty under the ice and having no way of getting it back," he told BBC News.

The name Boaty McBoatface was what the public in an online poll wanted to call the UK's next polar ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

The government thought that inappropriate but decided to keep the humours moniker for the autonomous underwater vehicles that will operate from the Attenborough's deck when it enters full service in 2019.

NOC is building a fleet of these AUVs. Their real codename is Autosub Long Range (ALR). They have been designed to navigate independently over great distances and have the energy reserves to stay out on mission for weeks on end.

This most recent expedition was part of the Filchner Ice Shelf (FIS) Project - a collaboration between the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Germany's Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), with NOC providing and running the Boaty model.

The Flichner is a vast floating slab of ice that has flowed off the land on to the Weddell Sea.


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