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Battle of the Atlantic Mission
 

Terms and Technology

AUV
Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are simply computer-controlled systems operating undersea. While they are similar to ROVs, they are considered autonomous because they have no physical connection to their operator, who may be on shore or aboard a ship. They are self-guiding and self-powered vehicles.

For more information on AUVs visit NOAA's Ocean Explorers website.

Gulf Stream
This is a powerful, fast-moving, warm water current that originates off the coast of Florida. It moves northward along the East Coast of the United States and collides with the Labrador Current off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

For more information on ocean currents visit NOAA's Ocean Service Education website.

Hydrocarbon
An organic compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are used as fuel sources and can be used to power engines in automobiles and watercraft, for example. During this project, a mass spectrometer will be used to detect hydrocarbons in the water to identify any potentially polluting shipwrecks. A vessel that sank with fuel onboard may still contain that fuel source. As the metals of the ship corrode, the fuel can leak out of its container and into the surrounding environment.

Labrador Current
This is a cold water current that flows south from the Arctic Ocean and converges with the warm waters of the Gulf Stream off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

For more information on ocean currents visit NOAA's Ocean Service Education website.

Magnetometer
This tool is towed from the back of a vessel in order to detect objects made of iron, such as shipwrecks. The magnetometer can detect variations in the earth's natural magnetic field that are caused by iron-based materials on the seafloor. It is also usually combined with a GPS unit, so the position of an object can easily be recorded.

Mass Spectrometer
An instrument used to take a sample of a substance, such as seawater, and separate it into individual atoms and molecules. This separation allows specific amounts of individual elements within the sample to be identified. During this project, the mass spectrometer will be used to detect hydrocarbons (hydrogen and carbon) in the water to identify any potentially polluting shipwrecks. A vessel that sank with fuel onboard may still contain that fuel source. As the metals of the ship corrode, the fuel can leak out of its container and into the surrounding environment.

Multibeam Sonar System
Multibeam sonar works by simultaneously sending out multiple sonar beams in a fan-shaped pattern that is oriented perpendicular to the ship's track. In this way, it maps the sea floor directly below the ship, as well as an area extending outward to either side of the ship. Mapping in this way is often referred to as "mowing the lawn" because each pass covers a fixed width of the sea floor and a regular pattern of tracklines is necessary to cover larger areas. Computers on the ship collect all of this sonar data and then process it to make two- or three-dimensional maps that help visualize the shape of the sea floor.

For more information on multibeam sonar visit NOAA's Ocean Explorers website.

Remote Sensing
Remote sensing is the science of remotely acquiring and presenting spatial data for objects and environmental processes. Remote sensing instruments are able to produce images of objects without being in physical contact with them. Instead, this advanced technology typically produces images by gathering, focusing, and recording reflected light from the sun or reflected radar or sonar waves (which were emitted by a satellite or other remote sensing device).

For more information on Remote Sensing visit NOAA's National Ocean Service website.

ROV
Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) are unoccupied, highly maneuverable underwater robots operated by a person aboard a surface vessel. They are linked to the ship by a group of cables that carry electrical signals back and forth between the operator and the vehicle. Most are equipped with at least a video camera and lights. Additional equipment is commonly added to expand the vehicle's capabilities. These may include a still camera, a manipulator or cutting arm, water samplers, and instruments that measure water clarity, light penetration, and temperature. First developed for industrial purposes, such as internal and external inspections of pipelines and the structural testing of offshore platforms, ROVs are now used for many applications, many of them scientific. They have proven extremely valuable in ocean exploration, and are also used for educational programs at aquaria and to link to scientific expeditions live via the Internet.

For more information on ROVs visit NOAA's Ocean Explorers website.

SCUBA
The Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or scuba diving system, as we know it today, is the result of technological developments and innovations that began almost 300 years ago. Scuba is the most extensively used system for breathing underwater by recreational divers throughout the world, and in various forms is also widely used to perform underwater work for military, scientific and commercial purposes.

Click here to learn more about scuba diving and how divers work underwater.


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