Boaty McBoatface is shoving off. The Arctic submarine was a bit of a consolation prize to the 124,000 people who voted last year to give the silly moniker to a $300 million polar research ship (which was instead named for David Attenborough), but it has real research value. Mashable reports that the long-range autonomous submarine has launched its first mission, which will explore some of the deepest parts of the ocean.
Boaty McBoatface will sail south from Chile later this week to start collecting data for the Dynamics of the Orkney Passage Outflow (DynOPO) project. The study of the Orkney Passage, located about 500 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula, includes researchers from the UK’s National Oceanography Center and the British Antarctic Survey. They hope to analyze how turbulence in the waters there, two miles under the ocean surface, might affect climate change.
The Antarctic Bottom Water, a mass of dense, cold water at the bottom of the ocean, plays an important part in ocean water circulation, moving cold water from Antarctica around the world. The DynOPO project aims to see how changes in winds near Antarctica might influence that system, and the data collected by Boaty McBoatface can help scientists model the flow of those abyssal waters and their relation to general climate patterns.