Launch of the SS Morning Star

Category: General Article

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Saturday August 15, 2015
Submitted by Rachel Teasdale

At 7:50 this evening, the crew of Thomas G. Thompson launched the SS Morning Star, a 5-foot sailboat built by Tillamook High School physics students in spring 2015. The boat is equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit so anyone can track its journey across the Pacific. The construction and launch of the SS Morning Star is part of the Educational Passages program that supports student-built unmanned sailboats, which are registered with NOAA for tracking.

The SS Morning Star launch occurred near N 46° 16.4’, W -129° 47.8’ (46.267778, -129.785556), which is about 20 nautical miles (about 23 miles) north-northeast of Axial Seamount and approximately 560 km (350 mi) east of the Oregon Coast. The progress of the SS Morning Star and other Educational Passages boats, are available online by clicking here. At the time of this posting, GPS data for the SS Morning Star was not yet online, but is expected to be available shortly.

The SS Morning Star is the 3rd boat of its kind launched in the Pacific and according to the Educational Passages website, there have been more than 40 other boats launched worldwide. The SS Morning Star is named after the famous sloop that carried butter in and out of Tillamook, Oregon. Two other boats previously launched in the Pacific were built by Oregon students in Waldport and Coos Bay. Information about the project is enclosed in a watertight port on the boat.

Students who build the boats are engaged in a variety of science education areas, to “expand and provide knowledge and adventure to the next generation of sailors, but also provides thought-provoking exercises to budding mathematicians, meteorologists, marine scientists,” according to the Educational Passages Website. By tracking the sailboats, students and the general public can learn about wind patterns and ocean currents, and make predictions about the trajectory the boats will take.

The science and ship’s crew were happy to launch the SS Morning Star and look forward to following its track in the Pacific.

Funding for the SS Morning Star project was provided by Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

Photo courtesy of Axial 2015 Team.



What Is The Global Positioning System?

You can track the SS Morning Star using the Global Positioning System — but what exactly is that? This short video provides a thumbnail sketch of how this technological marvel can help you find any place on Earth!

A Cooperative Program

The Axial Seamount Eruption Response is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation in cooperation with Oregon State University, Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oceanscape Network and others.

Do You Have Questions?

During the duration of this expedition, the science team will answer your questions. Return to the main Axial Seamount Eruption Response page to find the online form for this activity.