Globalstar Europe Satellite Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, announces that German research institution The Helmholtz Center Hereon is using SPOT Trace satellite GPS trackers to conduct worldwide oceanography research.
Hereon has designed and engineered innovative ocean drifter devices built around SPOT Trace which monitor ocean surface currents and reveal how biodiversity levels change in the world’s major rivers and seas. “Our purpose is to understand in greater detail the surface flow of water and organisms around the globe,” explains Dr. Jochen Horstmann, scientist at Hereon.
“We already have a reasonable idea of how currents work from satellite imagery and numerical models. However, we need reliable measurements of surface currents to better understand their processes and to improve our models,” he adds. The researchers use surface floats, or drifters, fitted with an underwater sail suspended at half a metre depth. These drifters report their position and therefore track the near-surface currents.
“As researchers, we always strive to get best possible value for money in the equipment we use, not only for us but for those governments, institutions and private individuals who fund our work.” he says. “We needed drifters that were economical, but when we looked at what devices were already available, these were typically very expensive, so we decided to build drifters ourselves,” he adds.
Satellite-enabled SPOT Trace tracks movement of currents and helps scientists monitor biodiversity
Horstmann and his colleagues knew they needed to build drifters capable of capturing and transmitting data even in extreme ocean conditions. “Our drifter needed to be robust enough to endure the elements, in particular severe wind conditions and waves,” explains Horstmann.
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