Argos-3 Satellite Communication System: Implementation on the Arvor Oceanographic Profiling Floats

Xavier André Institut Français de Recherche et d'Exploitation de la Mer, Brest, France

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Bertrand Moreau Société d'Ingénierie et de Conseils en Technologies, Brest, France

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Serge Le Reste Institut Français de Recherche et d'Exploitation de la Mer, Brest, France

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Abstract

The scientific community observes the ocean for applications in the fields of oceanography and climate research. To recover in situ data, more than 3000 profiling floats are operated in the framework of the Argo program. Each float performs cycles between the sea surface and a depth of 2000 m. Scientific data are gathered while the float is traveling upward from the depths of the oceans and are then transmitted via a satellite communication system at the end of each cycle. During its time at the surface, mainly dedicated to transmissions, the float is vulnerable and subject to drift, which limits its use in many studies. Moreover, transmission times are becoming longer due to a trend toward high-resolution or multisensor profiles. Consequently, the transmission system embedded in the profiling floats had to evolve.

Argos-3 is the latest generation of the Argos satellite communication system. It has been designed to allow instruments to transmit more data in a small time budget and as an alternative to Iridium, already implemented on profiling floats in restrictive applications.

This study aims to evaluate the implementation of Argos-3 on Arvor profiling floats. Tests were carried out first in the laboratory, before being implemented on the Arvor float and deployed at sea. This study proves that the high-data-rate mode suffered from European electromagnetic noise, which is incompatible with this application. The interactive low-data-rate mode was successfully qualified; it is capable of transmitting an entire dataset in a few minutes, compared to 8–10 h for the previous Argos-2 system.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Xavier André, Ingénierie et Instrumentation Marine, Recherches et Développements Technologiques, Ifremer, Z. I. de la Pointe du Diable, CS 10 070, 29280 Plouzané, France. E-mail: xavier.andre@ifremer.fr

Abstract

The scientific community observes the ocean for applications in the fields of oceanography and climate research. To recover in situ data, more than 3000 profiling floats are operated in the framework of the Argo program. Each float performs cycles between the sea surface and a depth of 2000 m. Scientific data are gathered while the float is traveling upward from the depths of the oceans and are then transmitted via a satellite communication system at the end of each cycle. During its time at the surface, mainly dedicated to transmissions, the float is vulnerable and subject to drift, which limits its use in many studies. Moreover, transmission times are becoming longer due to a trend toward high-resolution or multisensor profiles. Consequently, the transmission system embedded in the profiling floats had to evolve.

Argos-3 is the latest generation of the Argos satellite communication system. It has been designed to allow instruments to transmit more data in a small time budget and as an alternative to Iridium, already implemented on profiling floats in restrictive applications.

This study aims to evaluate the implementation of Argos-3 on Arvor profiling floats. Tests were carried out first in the laboratory, before being implemented on the Arvor float and deployed at sea. This study proves that the high-data-rate mode suffered from European electromagnetic noise, which is incompatible with this application. The interactive low-data-rate mode was successfully qualified; it is capable of transmitting an entire dataset in a few minutes, compared to 8–10 h for the previous Argos-2 system.

Denotes Open Access content.

Corresponding author address: Xavier André, Ingénierie et Instrumentation Marine, Recherches et Développements Technologiques, Ifremer, Z. I. de la Pointe du Diable, CS 10 070, 29280 Plouzané, France. E-mail: xavier.andre@ifremer.fr
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