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Teledyne Webb Research announced that their autonomous profiling explorer (APEX®) Deep has set a record, diving to a depth in excess of 6,000m in the Puerto Rico trench at approximately 0715 UTC on February 26, 2013, making APEX Deep the deepest diving commercially available profiling float.
APEX Deep achieved its first major milestone on 30 and 31 October 2012, when it exceeded 4,000m off the coast of Hawaii. The 6,000m dive was launched from the R/V Kruger B out of San Juan, starting its dive the afternoon on 25 February, 2013. Approximately 22 hours later, the float surfaced and transmitted its data over the Iridium satellite network.
"Our lessons learned from the October deployment allowed us to accelerate our schedule and reach our goal of 6,000m," stated Ernest Petzrick, Teledyne Webb Research APEX product line manager.
APEX floats are based on a buoyancy engine and have been commercially available since founder Douglas Webb opened Webb Research in 1982. APEX floats descend to a programmed depth where they become neutrally buoyant and drift.
After some interval, usually five to ten days, the buoyancy engine makes the float positively buoyant and it rises to the surface, where it transmits collected data such as temperature and salinity back to researchers via satellite communications. Researchers feed the data into climate, ocean and weather models. The results are most meaningful when a large population of floats is at sea sampling the oceans.
By designing and manufacturing highly energy efficient, reliable and low cost systems, Teledyne Webb Research has been able to play a leading role in populating the world’s oceans with profiling floats. Over two thirds of the world’s Argo network of profiling floats is some variant of an APEX.
Teledyne Webb Research has delivered over 7,500 profiling floats during its years in operation.
"We are committed to providing researchers the most reliable and cost effective profiling floats available, designed to satisfy different requirements and operate in the harshest environment on our planet," said Thomas Altshuler Ph.D., vice president and group general manager of Teledyne Marine Systems.
"We already offer a variety of APEX models from the standard Argo float to highly complex systems designed to collect data on ocean biology and chemistry. Now we are extremely pleased to offer the deepest diving commercially available profiling float, allowing researchers to collect vital information at depths that were previously inaccessible in an economically feasible manner."
Teledyne Webb Research will begin testing various sensors for APEX Deep. "Our next priority is an altimeter, which will allow APEX Deep to ‘see’ the bottom and either hover at some altitude above the bottom or avoid contacting it as the bathymetry changes. Sensors to measure dissolved oxygen and turbidity are also being investigated," said Bob Melvin, vice president of Engineering for the Teledyne Marine Systems group.
Melvin added, "The sensor integration roadmap is prioritised based on customer interest and sensor availability."
Teledyne Webb Research has established an email address for those interested in learning more about APEX Deep or would like to offer engineering, science or operational suggestions; [email protected]. You can also reach the product line manager at [email protected].
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