• Gliders, shown here in cross-section, navigate underwater without human intervention and can carry a variety of sensors. (Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

  • A Spray glider is recovered to the deck of R/V Knorr after a mission to study ocean circulation and its role and influence on the global climate. (Photo by John Lund, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

  • Spray glider in the water just after deployment. (Photo by John Lund, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

  • A Spray glider climbs a wave on the sea surface. (Photo by Ben Carr, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

  • Engineers working on a Spray glider. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

  • Slocum gliders, developed by Teledyne Webb Research, will be used at the Pioneer and Endurance Arrays, both part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative. (Photo by Paul Fucile, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A brief animation showing a glider during underwater operations. (Animation by Tim Silva, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A video showing deployment and recovery of the Spray glider. (Video by Matt Barton, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

About Gliders

Gliders are winged, low-power autonomous underwater vehicles that generate forward thrust by changing their buoyancy and glide angle to repeatedly dive and surface through the water. They can carry a variety of sensors, and are often used to carry out missions up to six months long. Gliders are used to take vertical profiles of data, giving scientists a clearer understanding of how temperature, salinity, and turbidity of specific areas of the oceans change over time in order to gain a better understanding of the role the ocean plays in global climate.

Glider page

Related mission


Length 1.5m (4.9 feet)
Diameter 22cm (8.7 inches)
Wingspan 1.2m (3.9 feet)
Weight 60kg (132.2 pounds)
Maximum Depth 1000m (3,281 feet)
Endurance Up to 12 months
Velocity .35m/s (0.7 knots)
Length 2m (6.6 ft.)
Diameter 20cm (7.9 inches)
Wingspan 1.2 m (3.9 feet)
Weight 52kg (115 pounds)
Maximum Depth 1,500m (4,921 feet)
Endurance Up to 6 months; 4,700km (2,920 miles)
Velocity 0.1m/s (0.2 knots)