A team from the Swedish University of Gothenburg conducted field research using a high-tech robotic underwater submarine named “Ran” after the Norse goddess of the sea. The device set off on another voyage when it mysteriously disappeared from all radars.
During the work, scientists took measurements of the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, which is also called the Doomsday Glacier, since its complete loss could be a real disaster for humanity – the melting of the glacier could cause a devastating rise in sea levels.
The Run submersible’s maiden voyage under the Thwaites Glacier was a significant event, as it marked the first time in history that something had passed beneath the Doomsday Glacier, taking important measurements of the melting ice cap.
This data told scientists in more detail about what was happening to it and at what rate it was losing ice.
However, at the end of the second mission, something unexpected happened – the submersible was unable to return from under the glacier.
Ran was repeatedly sent down and then raised, since huge blocks of ice simply did not allow the operator to maintain contact with the submarine. Instead, it is sent along a specific pre-programmed route and then returns to a specific meeting point.
Alas, this time something went wrong. According to the co-author of the study, marine scientist Anna Wåhlin, something strange happened under the Doomsday Glacier that did not allow the device to return to the scientists.
The team sent drones and helicopters to search, and also used acoustic search equipment, but all in vain.
In the end, scientists had to admit that they had lost the submersible. Wåhlin notes that the search for Ran is now like searching for a needle in a haystack, but scientists don’t even know where the haystack is.
At the moment, the batteries of the Ran apparatus are discharged, and all that scientists know is that something unexpected happened under the ice.
The team suggests that there is a possibility that something could have prevented the device from “getting out” from under the ice.
However, scientists are not losing heart; they are currently looking for funding that would allow them to replace the underwater vehicle and continue their research.