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Underwater glider on record-breaking scientific exploration of the Indian Ocean

16.10.2017 – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

The underwater glider Challenger broke the world record for longest ocean glider nonstop journey after covering 6,200 kilometers between Fremantle, Australia, and the coast of Sri Lanka.

Launched on 5 November 2016, the Challenger reached its first recovery point off the Sri Lanka coast on 27 September 2017, completing the longest journey of an ocean glider to-date.

The Challenger Glider Mission is the first science expedition to circle the entire globe by completing a 128,000-kilometer-journey across the five ocean basins. Alongside UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), scientists and institutions made up a global team able to push the limits of technology to capture an unprecedented wealth of undersea data for the benefit of international scientific research.

© University of Western Australia: Unveiling of the Challenger glider in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the extraction of the flags – proudly displayed by the Honorable Eran Wickramaratne (Sri Lanka State Minister of Finance); Mr Bryce Hutschesson (Australian High Commissioner); and Mr Michael Cragun (US Embassy).

The Challenger Mission has been conceived as an international concerted response to the urgent need for better understanding of our ocean’s critical role in regulating the changing climate. The scientific data collected will ultimately benefit the people who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and wellbeing. In the Indian Ocean, alone, this means approximately three billion people affected by ocean currents and weather systems. Exploring the Indian Ocean is crucial to unveil trends and information needed for effective science-based management and decision-making.

The Challenger initiative also has an educational dimension, providing open access and real-time data that help improve ocean literacy all over the world. Ocean literacy – awareness of one’s impact on the ocean and the ocean’s impact on our wellbeing – is a theme of growing interest to scientists and policy-makers alike, as they seek to educate citizens about the importance of protecting and sustainably using the ocean and its resources, many of which are threatened by human activities.

From Sri Lanka, the Challenger will then move towards South Africa where it will be recovered and set on return course bound to Australia.

The Challenger Glider Mission was made possible by the collaboration of the University of Western Australia and Rutgers University, with support of UNESCO’s IOC and over 20 institutions across 13 nations. It is has also been endorsed by the Second Internaional Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2) as an activity of key relevancy to the IIOE-2 Science Plan.

For more information, please contact:

Nick d’Adamo (

Source : UNESCO