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Announcing: a thrilling ocean science film from Rutgers University.
April 5, 2011


Atlantic Crossing:                   A Robot's Daring Mission

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How is climate change affecting the ocean?  Accompany an invincible robot as she braves an oceanic obstacle course while collecting vital data on its mission, spearheaded by the students and faculty of Rutgers University. Due to the unstoppable determination of 'Scarlet' and her team, now scientists are closer to a better understanding of global warming and its effect on ocean temperatures.

Atlantic Crossing: A Robot's Daring Mission is a feature-length documentary about The Scarlet Knight (RU27); the first autonomous underwater robot to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean. Scarlet's thrilling journey began in April 2009 when the Rutgers team launched her off the coast of Tuckerton, NJ.

Rutgers undergrads piloted RU27 from the lab on shore; using everything they’ve learned about currents and the oceans to make the mission a success.

In RU27’s first week at sea, the team had to maneuver around a maze of fishing nets and deal with a sensor malfunction. And that was just the first 100 miles, of 3000.  Scarlet spent the next 7 months crossing the Atlantic. Every time the glider surfaced, it used a global cell phone to call the lab – literally – to send in the data it’s collected and receive instructions on where to go next.

An award winning film crew led by Dena Seidel documented the gliders trans-Atlantic mission from New Jersey to its arrival in Spain, where Christoper Columbus and the Pinta first landed with news of the New World more than 500 years ago.

2 Versions on 1 DVD

57 mins and 75 min extended feature.

$195  BUY NOW
Colleges, Institutions, & Businesses

$49   BUY NOW
K-12 Schools, Public Libraries & Non-Profits

Watch trailer



Collaboration between departments at Rutgers makes film possible.

Dena Seidel: Our film “Atlantic Crossing: A Robot’s Daring Mission” features world-renowned oceanographer Scott Glenn and his scientific team at Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS). I teach documentary filmmaking as creative writing in Writers House, Rutgers English. Never has an Oceanography department and an English department worked so closely together for so long.

Writers House, like IMCS, is an undergraduate learning community. Just as oceanography and engineering students helped build, test, and navigate Scarlet, my students in Rutgers English were involved in every stage of the documentary film’s production and post production. Our filmmaking team had the privilege of documenting the oceanographic team for more than a year, collecting over 400 hours of high definition cinema verite footage. Told entirely with the scientists’ own words (without imposed written narration) “Atlantic Crossing: A Robot’s Daring Missions” documents the trials and successes, emotional highs and lows, tension, disappointments and ultimate euphoria of this historic scientific mission.

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Flight Across the Atlantic 

Rutger's students lead the Scarlet Knight's mission from start to finish  (The robot is actually named after the school's mascot).  Everyday the team of students would gather information about  current weather conditions to determine the path of the glider.   Visit the Coastal Ocean Observation Lab website to meet the team of undergraduates who worked on Scarlet's mission.  

Scarlet-in-SmithsonianThe Scarlet Knight is currently showcased at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in the Sant Ocean Hall.  The glider is now on display to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers.  

For more information visit The Smithsonian Newsdesk

Green Planet Films is a nonprofit distributor of nature and environmental films from around the globe. We promote environmental education through film.

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Glider Factoid

The Scarlet Knight had no engine so it altered buoyancy to propel it forward.  The robot rode the ocean currents and made a series of 10,000 dives and ascents to collect data.  Want to learn more fun facts about Scarlet's journey?
Visit the toolkit for educators.


Atlantic Crossing will air on PBS starting this month!  Check your local listings for schedules and more information.

Bonus Material

  • Making of Atlantic Crossing
  • RU27 Student Research Video
  • Atlantic Crossing Extended Version

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