The sonobuoy is device that gathers and transmits information from the world’s oceans. It is a technology that dates to the first world war, when it was developed by the military to track the activities of passing vessels. Today, a wide range of industries utilize the information gathering and transmitting capabilities of the device, from military groups, to oil and gas exploration, to scientific groups. They are used to monitor a number of types of ocean activities. Migration habits of marine life, varying ocean temperatures, changing currents, ship activity, and ocean terrain are only a few of the many things that a sonobuoy can be used to monitor or track. While they can be highly technical devices, they mainly consist of a few critical components.
1. Floatation device
All of them have some form of flotation device. This allows a person to deploy it at sea, where it can float for a period of time and record and transmit data and not have it sink to the bottom of the ocean. The top of it floats and the bottom is submersed, so it can gather information. In many cases, the other components are connected by cables that float freely. While the idea is simple, a piece of equipment attached to a buoy, the finished product can be highly technical.
The transmitter is the part of the sonobuoy that transmits the data it collects to another computer for storage and processing. It is an essential component, because many sonobuoys are lost in the violent conditions, making retrieving them difficult or impossible. By transmitting the data, the team processing the information is better able to get the information they need.
3. Sonar equipment
Not all sonobuoys have sonar equipment, but it is a common component. Those that have them are called active. Those that do not are called passive. The device emits a ping and then measures the time it takes for the sound waves to bounce off of something and return. This helps the controller paint a picture of the environment in which the sonobuoy was deployed. The product has helped create detailed maps of previously unknown parts of the ocean.
4. Rugged construction
Sonobuoys are used in one of the most violent and difficult environments on earth… in the middle of oceans. Severe weather, animal encounters, corrosion, salt, and violent movements are all everyday occurrences for the average buoy. They need to withstand the elements long enough to gather the information for which they were deployed. It is important to make sure that the product you purchase has been thoroughly tested for durability and reliability. The quality of the data collected depends on the quality of the tracking equipment.
5. Recording equipment
While most every sonobuoy has a transmitter, some have recording device on them. It is possible to retrieve the information manually, or have the device only transmit the data periodically. Recording equipment is helpful for times when weather or other conditions do not permit the transmission of data. The information can be stored until a time when it can be safely retrieved.