If you’ve been following Europa’s journey west, you probably noticed a very distinct change in it’s behavior on February 11th, 2019 (about 9 days ago).
This was not a planned detour.
Unfortunately, all communication to the the sub has been lost. We can no longer control the rudder, and that means Europa is currently just drifting with the ocean’s currents.
We are not sure what exactly caused this communication failure, but we took all possible steps to fix it remotely and found no success.
When the sub loses communication, it automatically gives itself a “right rudder”. This is for situations like the one we are currently in, and the hope is that the glider will just circle in the area where it lost communication until it can be fixed or recovered.
Being that the glider is out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there are a lot of strong currents that are pushing the glider in certain directions. When the sub is trying to do one thing, and the float another, twists in the umbilical can occur.
One twist means that the float has become 360 degrees out of sync with the sub. As you can see in the images below, Europa has had a number of twists take place since this communication error took place.
Obviously, our plans have now changed! We need to find a way to recover the glider.
There are actually a number of foreign fishing boats out in the vicinity, but that proves slightly difficult for a number of reasons. Language, when they will go back to port, ability to recovery the glider, willingness to help. These are all factors in this recovery that we are currently dealing with.
Other options are also available in the Marshall Islands (currently about 700 nautical miles SSW of Europa), but they have their own issues as well.
Of note: Europa will typically automatically avoid vessels that it determines are in its path within a certain distance. Because of the fact that the float cannot communicate with the sub, this functionality is now basically inoperable. This puts Europa at a higher risk of being run over by a boat while drifting at sea, hence, we are trying to recover sooner rather than later. In the mean time, we are requesting audio files that are stored on board in 30 second clips through Rudics in hopes to salvage as much data as possible in the event that we eventually lose Europa to a collision.
There are a few really good things that we still have going for us. We have full communication to the float. The sub is still attached. The cameras and lights and sensors on the float are still working.
These are all things that we’re actually very happy about. We are able to keep an up-to-date location on Europa, and expect that’s going to be a vital part of the recovery once we get a plan in place.
We are constantly working on a way to get Europa back, and will keep you updated along the journey.
As always, you can continue to track Europa along the way, and if you have any information or thoughts as to how to help aide in the recovery, we’d love to hear them.
Please feel free to reach out! We are offering a reward for the recovery of Europa.
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Mahalo, and aloha!