Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
One of the major themes of MBARI’s current research is the increasing dependence on real-time data for informed decision-making during the course of field experiments. To this end MBARI has invested considerable resources in related projects such as the Ocean Decision Support System (ODSS) for coordinated mission planning and data visualization, highly agile sampling platforms such as the LRAUV family of vehicles, and the development of sophisticated sampling algorithms for applications such as patch tracking. Adequate real-time data is the raw material for ODSS’s visualization and decision-making tools for managing these types of missions and yet due to design or observational constraints many of our mobile assets have a very limited ability to bring back real time data. Experiments using AUV’s that do push limits on data return quickly run into difficulties with too much AUV time spent on the surface and a large dollar cost for data return. A major reason for this is our historical reliance on the Iridium Satellite constellation for over-the-horizon communications. While the AUV Iridium satellite systems are required for command and status updates, are reliable and provide worldwide coverage, they have a very limited data transfer rate and a large cost per byte.