It turned out, the ship’s resupply mission south wasn’t needed due to coronavirus restrictions, so the Coast Guard decided in October to send the ship north. But time was short to get permission and funding to add a science component to the Polar Star before the ship’s launch on December 4. It called for measuring winter water in the Northern Bering and Chukchi Seas by releasing into the ocean dozens of expendable conductivity-temperature-depth (XCTD) probes. Just eleven days later, the Coast Guard and NSF gave the go ahead. Measuring winter water is important because it contains high levels of nutrients that spur primary production in the spring, Pickart says.