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Spray Glider

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A SPRAY GLIDER IN ACTION - On a mission, a Spray Glider resembles a whale moving through the water as it repeatedly submerges and resurfaces. It takes 3.5 hours for the glider to reach a depth of one kilometer (0.62 mile) before it ascends to the surface, gathering data as it rises. During that time it will travel a horizontal distance of five kilometers (3.1 miles).

Researchers guide the glider by giving it waypoints, or target positions to specified locations. The glider steers to these waypoints by controlling its buoyancy and orientation, using the lift from its wings to move horizontally.

At the beginning and the end of each dive, the glider obtains and records its position by rolling on its side to expose a Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna embedded the right wingtip. Researchers obtain data from the glider via an e-mail message sent from the glider. They send new instructions to it using a satellite phone system and an antenna embedded in the left wingtip. (Illustration by Jayne Doucette, WHOI)