Instruments in the Sea and Sky: NASA’s S-MODE Mission Kicks off
Using instruments at sea and in the sky, the Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE) team aims to understand the role these ocean processes play in vertical transport, the movement of heat, nutrients, oxygen, and carbon from the ocean surface to the deeper ocean layers below. In addition, scientists think these small-scale ocean features play an important role in the exchange of heat and gases between air and sea. Understanding small-scale ocean dynamics will help scientists better understand how Earth’s oceans slow the impact of global warming and impact the Earth climate system.
From its vantage 28,000 feet in the air aboard the NASA Armstrong King Air B200, the DopplerScatt instrument bounces radar signals off the ocean to provide information about winds and currents at the surface. The MASS instrument aboard the Twin Otter DHC6 plane flies below the clouds to observe how surface waves move and break. It collects measurements with a complex suite of laser-based and imaging devices, which allow the team to infer ocean currents from these measurements.
Several Saildrones set sail from San Francisco Bay to join the S-MODE fleet collecting data at the study site. The Saildrones and Wave Gliders will measure a vast array of factors such as ocean currents, wind speed and direction, air and water temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll content.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center