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Researchers have tested a compact radar system integrated on a small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) to look through the ice and map the topography underlying rapidly moving glaciers.

"We're excited by the performance we saw from our radar and UAS during the field campaign,” said Rick Hale, associate professor of aerospace engineering and associate director of technology for the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) at the University of Kansas. “The results of this effort are significant, in that the miniaturized radar integrated into a UAS promises to make this technology more broadly accessible to the research community.”

With support from the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs and the State of Kansas, the CReSIS team recently successfully tested the UAS at a field camp in West Antarctica. The measurements were the first-ever successful sounding of glacial ice with a UAS-based radar. If further tests in the Arctic prove as successful, the UAS could eventually be routinely deployed to measure rapidly changing areas of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Image courtesy of University of Kansas.

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