Satellite Drifter


Students in the Marine Science Technology Program have built another ocean drifter designed to study California coastal currents. The Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) program in Monterey obtained a grant from the National Science Foundation to fund this study. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute provided materials and technical support to assist CR students to assemble the drifter, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has donated satellite time to track the drifter once it is deployed in the Pacific Ocean.


The drifter is a four-and-one-half foot tall by four foot wide structure made of PVC pipe and vinyl ?sails? and contains a satellite transmitter. The drifter is designed to float just below the surface of the ocean so that its path is largely unaffected by the wind. A satellite tracking device protrudes above the ocean surface so the path of the drifter can be monitored by MST students, scientists, and the public.


Marine Science Technology students on the Mendocino Campus are hoping to see how changes in wind and currents affect the path of their drifter. To date, MST students have deployed drifters on three separate research/teaching cruises along the Mendocino Coast. The following links document the paths followed by each of the drifters.

DRIFTER 1 (Deployed on May 11, 2010):

DRIFTER 2 (Deployed on November 12, 2010):

DRIFTER 3 (Deployed on April 11, 2011):

DRIFTER 4 (Deployed on December 2, 2011):?

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