The yellow submarine dubbed “Boaty McBoatface” is set to leave for Antarctica this week on its first science expedition.
The robot is going to map the movement of deep waters that play a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate.
Boaty carries the name that a public poll had suggested be given to the UK’s future £200m polar research vessel.
The government felt this would be inappropriate and directed the humorous moniker go on a submersible instead.
But what many people may not realise is that there is actually more than one Boaty. The name covers a trio of vehicles in the new Autosub Long Range class of underwater robots developed at Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
These machines can all be configured slightly differently depending on the science tasks they are given.
The one that will initiate the “adventures of Boaty” will head out of Punta Arenas, Chile, on Friday aboard Britain’s current polar ship, the RRS James Clark Ross.
The JCR will drop the sub into a narrow, jagged, 3,500m-deep gap in an underwater ridge that extends northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Referred to as the Orkney Passage, this is the gateway into the Atlantic for much of the “bottom-water” that is created as sea-ice grows on the margins of the White Continent.