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This paper presents the system design, sea trials and Antartic exploitation of the SESAMO platform. The SESAMO (sea surface autonomous modular unit) prototype robot was especially designed to collect data and samples for the study of the sea-air interface. At sea, operations showed that a relatively simple robot could satisfactorily work in a natural, outdoor environment, dramatically facilitating the job of the human operator. To achieve high quality sampling of the surface microlayer, however, requires a large amount of time, leading to significant demands on logistics resources, mainly in terms of operating time of the support vessel.