On March 28, the Vice-governor, Prof. Pedro Pesatti, was present at the offshore deployment of the Wave Glider robot in San Matías Gulf, as part of a project to study and exploit the wealth and potential of the Atlantic Ocean in the context of “Pampa Azul” program.
Pampa Azul is a national strategic initiative for scientific research in the Argentine seas. It also includes exploration and preservation activities, technological development of productive sectors related to the sea, and popularization of scientific findings aimed at the general public.
Pesatti —who was accompanied by the Secretary of Science, Technology and Development for Production, Engineer Hugo Josserme, and by Roxana Fernández, a member of Río Negro legislature— highlighted the work done to introduce this technology into San Matías Gulf waters and informed that “the experience intended to adjust the robotic device that will be used to study the sea in Pampa Azul program”. He also pointed out that data thus collected will be useful for the province since “the government opened, more than a year ago, an Applied Research Center in San Antonio Oeste, in which the provincial government, the National University of Comahue, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET, in Spanish) and the Marine Biology Institute take part.”
In this respect, the Wave Glider is the only platform of its kind in the country. It has been designed for autonomous navigation in the sea and as a source of information to be sent to earth by means of a satellite.
If needed, it could travel to a remote sea area to gather information and return to land for maintainance, carrying out missions for more than a year. This will reduce the cost of oceanographic campaigns and will allow to collect data without embarking.
Other institutions and organizations that supported the project were the National Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT, in Spanish); the National Ministry of Security; the National Ministry of Defense through the Naval Hydrography Service; the Argentine Naval Prefecture (PNA, in Spanish); the Province of Río Negro Secretary Office of Science, Technology and Development for Production; the Province of Río Negro Under Secretary Office of Fisheries; the Center of Applied Research and Technology Transfer for Marine Resources “Almirante Storni” (CIMAS, in Spanish) of the Province of Río Negro; the CONICET; the Scientific and Technological Center (CIT) of the Province of Santa Cruz; INVAP S.E. (an Argentine state-owned applied research company), and the company Liquid Robotics, which provided the technical equipment.
The Vice-governor maintained that the Province of Río Negro has a great potential to make a contribution to Pampa Azul program. “The aim is to combine INVAP’s capacity to develop technology with the possibility of using San Matías Gulf as a test-bed,” said Pesatti. And he added: “There is an active cooperation between several institutions involved in Pampa Azul. This will generate an important synergy for a large scope project, which will let us know the most important resource of our country: the sea.”
Schedule of the Glider’s test
• On March 24, the Glider left, moved by its technicians, the CIT in the Province of Santa Cruz. During that night, it was kept at the headquarters of the Patagonia National University “San Juan Bosco”, in Chubut.
• On March 25, it arrived at the port of San Antonio Este, where it was hosted at the Naval Prefecture.
• On March 26, a group of technicians of the CIMAS, the Santa Cruz CIT, INVAP, the CONICET, the Naval Hydrography Service (SHN, in Spanish) and the Argentine Naval Prefecture gathered to adjust the protocol for the launching, prepare the vehicle, verify the data connection onshore and check its correct operation.
• On March 28, it was submerged into the sea from the coastal patrol ship GC71 belonging to the PNA.
• On March 29, it sailed on its own, constantly collecting and sending information via satellite to an earth control center.
• On March 30, it was picked up by the GC71 and taken to the port of San Antonio Este.
• On March 31, a technical evaluation was carried out, and all the arrangements were made to take the Glider back to Río Gallegos.