It’s not every day that an unmanned scientific submarine makes international headlines, but this sub is named Boaty McBoatface, and it is about to embark on its first mission.
The sub is operated by Britain's National Environmental Research Council, which last year turned to the internet to name the group’s new $248 million research ship that is still under construction.
The online naming poll went viral, but NERC opted instead to name the ship the Royal Research Ship Sir David Attenborough, after the famous British naturalist.
Making sure not to anger the internet, NERC opted to use Boaty McBoatface for the drone sub.
Now, little Boaty is about to undertake its first mission, according to a NERC statement.
“Cute though it sounds, this unmanned submarine is part of a fleet of some pretty intrepid explorers,” it said. “This month they'll begin their first mission, traversing a deep current that originates in Antarctica and flows through the Southern Ocean. They'll be collecting data for the Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO) project as they 'fly' through submarine waterfalls and rapids, shedding light on how global warming is changing our oceans.”
Boaty McBoatface will likely be operated from the RSS Sir David Attenborough when it is finished being built in 2019.
“Work continues on dry land for now, but she'll be ready to 'splashdown' off the yard and into the blue early next year, whilst works will continue inside,” NERC said. “Then she'll be taken for trials to make sure she's seaworthy and her scientific equipment is working to perfection before she sets off for her first mission in 2019.”