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Home - Seeing the Light – Summer 2010

A major thrust of the effort is to establish the potential of this technology for calibration and validation of satellite-based ocean-color measurements. The new floats are enabled with a two-way communication system that allows researchers to control when the floats descend and ascend, and when they take measurements.

“Radiometers allow us to do a better job in modeling primary production,” says Boss. “We’re trying to see if we can use them to calibrate satellites, and plan on having other sensors measure for scattering. That allows us to get more information on what’s in the water.”

Most of the existing floats are programmed to descend and ascend for specific periods of time to take a predetermined number of measurements. Using wireless communication and data dissemination created by CLS America, researchers will provide the floats with commands during missions, including changes in response to events such as hurricanes.

The data collected will be sent to a centralized Web site for all researchers to analyze and for future input into assimilating ocean ecosystem models.

With more advanced communications systems, it may also be possible to increase the life of profiling floats. Currently, researchers can record about 300 profiles from one float. The devices are limited by battery life, and once the batteries die, it’s not possible to recapture the devices. One of Boss’ goals is to test recovery possibilities, so that floats can be reused.

Scientists from the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center, partners in this project, are building a tool that will provide crucial remotely sensed information around the float surfacing location for measurement context. Every time a float reports its location, NASA will provide real-time data on weather, temperature and events in a 50-kilometer radius.

“We have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the future of our field and its ability to provide much-needed information on how carbon and other material are processed globally,” says Boss.

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Blue Sky Research Initiatives

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