Research submarine gone under the Doomsday Glacier

01 February, 2024

The unmanned underwater vehicle Ran has disappeared under a glacier in Antarctica.

– It’s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, but without even knowing where the haystack is, says Anna Wåhlin, project manager and professor at Gothenburg University, in a press release.

The unmanned underwater vehicle Ran. Press photo. Photo: Anna Wåhlin/Göteborgs Universitet

The vessel is owned by the University of Gothenburg and is one of three of its kind in the world, which is used for research and knowledge about glaciers. The underwater vehicle has been used several times in Antarctica, mainly at the Thwaites Glacier or the Doomsday Glacier as it is also called.

Ran is seven meters long and has the capacity to perform long missions under ice. When Ran dives under 200 – 500-meter-thick ice, the craft has no contact with the research vessel that collects the data.

– The data we get from Ran is unique in the world, and of great value for international research, says Anna Wåhlin, project manager and professor at the University of Gothenburg.

During the last dive of the weekend, something went wrong with the expedition – the craft did not show up at the programmed rendezvous point. After a major search effort without results, the research team is now looking for a replacement.

Ran has been in use for five years and the purchase was financed in 2015 with SEK 38 million by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

Text: Paulina Sörlin/TT
Photo: Anna Wåhlin/Göteborgs Universitet

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