Flash news

Pas de contenu pour le moment

Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is a national collaborative research infrastructure, supported by the Australian Government. The IMOS Ocean Gliders facility operates a fleet of autonomous underwater ocean gliders that undertake measurements from shelf and boundary currents in Australian waters. They recently recovered one of their precisous gliders – and the extremely valuable data it had collected – thanks to the Argos backup tracking system integrated by the glider manufacturer. 

In March, glider U287 was deployed off the Northeast Australian coast, in the Coral Sea. After 8 days at sea, the glider started showing signs of a faulty altimeter. Then the pilots lost contact with the glider. For two weeks, no signal was received at all and the glider team was beginning to panic. But on April 1st, glider U287 resurfaced, and started sending sporadic positions via its Argos backup communication system.

By April 3rd, U287 was sending regular positions. It was approaching the coast. Its drift trajectory made it look like it would soon cross a major maritime shipping route, at its own risk and perils. But the weather was so bad that it was impossible to send out a rescue mission.

Glider recovery

The Argos goniometer can be used to recover expensive oceanographic equipment like U287. Photo courtesy of Dennis Stanley.

On April 4th, the weather improved enough for the Ocean Glider team to send out a rescue mission. The team headed towards the last Argos position received by satellite. Onboard, the team had their Argos goniometer/direction finder, a sophisticated device which makes it possible to receive Argos signals from the backup transmission system directly (within a 100 km range).  The team programmed the goniometer to receive data from the missing tag before leaving shore. About 10 kms out, the team picked up the first signal from the tag despite the choppy seas.  The goniometer received regular pings (every 90 seconds) from the Argos tag, guiding the rescue team towards it.

As the rescue boat approached, the glider just narrowly missed collision with a cargo ship. The glider was floating low in the water when the pilot scooped it out of the water and carried it to safety. Thanks to the goniometer, they were able to recover the glider quickly before another cargo ship passed, putting the vulnerable drone in danger again.

Precious data recovered

With the redundant tracking systems built into Slocum gliders, the Argos goniometer/direction finder, and the charter boat company, the Ocean Glider team was able to recover their precious equipment and all of the valuable data that it stored.

Today, glider U287 continues to record what’s happening in our oceans for IMOS.

Read the full story

Photo credits: Dennis Stanley


About the Argos goniometer:

The Argos goniometer,  which has a long experience in equipment rescue, has been designed by CLS to specifically allow users to find active ARGOS PTTs in the field. Depending on the altitude and the reception conditions the goniometer can detect all transmitting platforms within a radius of 100 km or more.

This highly sensitive direction finder is an excellent tool for the field recovery of expensive ocean equipment using Argos as a backup communication system. Some glider manufacturers integrate Argos tags in their gliders for this purpose, or Argos tags can be attached to the antenna in case of malfunctions of the main communication system.

The Argos goniometer displays:

  • The direction towards the Argos platform
  • The signal power of the Argos transmitter
  • The GPS positions transmitted by the platform (if any)

This equipment is also useful for finding any Argos transmitters in the field, including animal tracking tags, such as bird tags and pop-ups, or any Argos-equipped ocean platforms.

Group of Mhorr gazelle with a GPS collar (credits T. Abáigar)

03.07.2019 Animal tracking applications Reintroducing Mhorr gazelles into the wild

The Mhorr gazelle is an endangered species of the Sahelian area. It is one of the most singular, threatened and scarcely-studied gazelle species of northern Africa. It is considered by locals as part of their cultural wealth. Reintroduction into the wild of captivity-bred individuals has first been tried in Southern…
IMOS glider

01.07.2019 Flash news Glider recovery with Argos back-up tracking

Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is a national collaborative research infrastructure, supported by the Australian Government. The IMOS Ocean Gliders facility operates a fleet of autonomous underwater ocean gliders that undertake measurements from shelf and boundary currents in Australian waters. They recently recovered…

26.06.2019 Flash news Great news for Argos users, the Kinéis constellation carrying the future of Argos is under production!

Production is underway on the new constellation of 25 nanosatellites called Kinéis, with the next generation Argos instruments onboard. The new generation of the Argos system is based on greater bandwidth, improved data timeliness thanks to a shorter revisit time (5-15 minutes between satellite passes depending on latitude) and two-way…

14.06.2019 Animal tracking applications Happy World Sea Turtle Day from Argos

On June 16th, people around the world celebrate the beauty of sea turtles and their importance to the marine ecosystem. CLS, unique operator of the Argos system since 1986, would like to take this occasion to honor the scientists working to understand and protect sea turtles globally.  The Argos system…
loggerhead turtle

14.06.2019 Animal tracking applications Understanding the tracking of three loggerhead turtles with ocean data

Trajectories of loggerhead turtles in the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean Sea have been tracked using Argos transmitters. Comparing the tracks with marine environmental data provides a better understanding of the movements of these animals. Photo courtesy of Aquarium La Rochelle SAS. 35 years of monitoring…. For more than 35…
fiordland crested penguin

11.06.2019 Animal tracking applications New Zealand’s Marathon Penguins

New Zealand is home to more penguin species than any other country in the world. The Tawaki penguin, also known as the Fiorland penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), is one such species that breeds on the New Zealand mainland. With an estimated population size of merely 5,500–7,000 mature birds, Tawaki are very…
An elephant seal track (CEBC/CNRS), with the elephant turning around the low eddy on the right (sea level anomaly map dating from that turn)

29.05.2019 Animal tracking applications Ocean data to better understand marine animals in their environment

Argos satellite tracking makes it possible to follow the paths of tagged animals. This tracking data is invaluable, but sometimes it raises more questions than it answers. Why is the animal making a detour – or even a loop? Does it stay here or there for feeding, or for another…
Argonautica annual meeting 2019 (photo A. Willm for Cnes)

27.05.2019 Testimonies Kids on Argos tracks

Among Argos satellite telemetry users, we have kids and teachers, thanks to the Argonautica STEM educational project from the French Space Agency, Cnes. Representatives met last week to present the work done using the Argos and “Metoc” data in the Annual Argonautica Conference held in Montpellier. Argos has one…
Juvenile male Hen Harrier with an Argos PTT (Credits Les Steele)

17.05.2019 Animal tracking applications Argos helps reveal that British grouse moors are dangerous grounds for hen harriers

Hen Harriers is a protected species of raptor living in Great Britain. Until recently, their behaviour and habits had been observed mostly at specific times and areas. Argos PTTs have enabled monitoring a wide variety of individuals over long periods and studying threats from recreational shooting. The historic ornithological…
king penguins

25.04.2019 Animal tracking applications King penguins: Long-distance champion

The research team at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC-CNRS) has been using the Argos system since the 1990s to study penguins on Crozet and Kerguelen Islands. One of the researchers from the team, Charles-André Bost, began using the Argos system in 1994 to learn more about the…