For those who are familiar with CONCUR, you may have realized that we haven’t been mentioning one major part of the expedition. Our autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)! So, here is the story of why we have been quiet on that front.
First, let’s meet our AUV. UBC-Gavia is an autonomous underwater vehicle which is essentially a pick-up truck to carry around scientific instruments to difficult locations, such as under-ice.
To run a mission using UBC-Gavia, first we had to haul her out onto the ice.
Then an ice hole big enough for launch was cut.
Then, when all systems are a go, we launched.
We launched 3 missions and she returned for 3 times. She popped up right back in the hole each time.
Then, on the fourth mission, she decided not to come back (we were a little insulted). We tried pulling on the tether, but nothing would give. So, we went into search mode. First, a foot search was launched on the ice. Using this method relied on the avalanche beacon, but this method had to be aborted due to poor ice conditions.
So, we tried to find her by using a hydrophone from shore. The hydrophone should have been able to pick up the pings that come from the pingers that are tucked into her communication tower.
The hydrophone wasn’t giving us any great response from shore, so we paddled out to the ice edge and listened again.
The next day, a mission was launched to see if we could get closer to where we guesstimated she was to use the hydrophone again. So, a modified boat was pushed across the ice. But again, we didn’t pick up any sign of AUV life.
Team UBC-Gavia decided to take a short break to regroup and hike the second tallest mountain in Finland, Saana. Plus, they wanted to see if they could spot UBC-Gavia from up there.
It became obvious that the methods being used would not work, so it was decided that we would continue to take measurements with other instruments. We weren’t giving up on finding UBC-Gavia, but we thought that the chance of recovery would be better when the ice had melted more and the lake had more open water on it.
When we were out on the water making measurements, we were always on the lookout for UBC-Gavia’s communication tower, which is clear plastic. It is looks a lot like an ice crystal. So, it would be easy to spot on an ice-covered lake. Not!
Finally, one last attempt to visually search for UBC-Gavia in open water was launched. And lo and behold, the UBC-Gavia tether line was spotted.
So, into the boat we hopped and out onto the water we went. After 100’s of meters of line was pulled in, a gold, torpedo shape fish emerged from under the ice. UBC-Gavia was found!
After seeing that nothing was damaged, Team UBC-Gavia was ecstatic. So, the AUV was hauled into the boat and escorted to shore.
Back on shore, UBC-Gavia was loaded onto her cradle and loaded into the back of the van.
UBC-Gavia’s position was unknown for 123 stressful hours, and now that she is back on shore, we can’t wait to get her back in the water running missions.
Today’s Finnish word of the blog is onnea (Bravo).
Seuraavaan kertaan! (Until next time!)