Hugh Pickens writes "She was at sea for 221 days, alone, often in dangerous places, and usually out of touch. Most of the time she was out of contact underwater, moving slowly up and down to depths of 600 feet, safe from ships, nets, and storms. Her predecessor had disappeared on a similar trip, probably killed by a shark. 'She was a hero,' says Rutgers University oceanographer Scott Glenn after retrieving Scarlet Knight, the 7-foot-9-inch submersible robot from the stormy Atlantic off western Spain. An engineer working for the company that made the submersible said, 'We think this will just be a precursor, like Lindbergh's trip across the Atlantic. In a decade we think it will be commonplace to have roving fleets of these gliders making transoceanic trips.' The people responsible for building, funding, and flying Scarlet hope the end of the robot's successful voyage will mark a new beginning in ocean and climate research. From its position at each surfacing — when the glider surfaced and called home via an Iridium telephone parked in its tail — researchers could calculate the net effect of currents deep and shallow. After surface currents were measured, the scientists could then make inferences about what was happening deeper in the water column. Scarlet called home to upload data to researchers three times a day. 'When we have hundreds of them, or thousands of them, it will revolutionize how we can observe the oceans,' says Jerry L. Miller, a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who accompanied the research team to Spain."
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