Unmanned in Antarctica


A team of researchers and engineers from the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) recently fielded a 100 lbs. unmanned aircraft system tightly integrated with a university-developed compact radar that operates in both the HF and lower VHF ranges. The UAS was used for the remote imaging of the ice-bed interface in the Sub-glacial Lake Whillans (SLW) Antarctica, from their base camp over 10 km away. According to CReSIS, this marks the first successful demonstration of sounding ice with a radar on a UAS.

This season, the team operated from a particularly remote camp, making the first flights crucial to the expedition’s success. The team was then able to complete over a dozen flight missions throughout their deployment. The multidisciplinary CReSIS teams have successfully fielded three unmanned aircraft in Antarctica and northern Greenland ranging from 30 lbs to the Center’s 1100 lbs Meridian UAS.

Pulse Aerospace has been the supplier of autopilots, ground control software, controller synthesis, and flight test services for the aircraft. “We are encouraged about the team’s accomplishments over the past 5 years. It takes strong discipline to field systems of this complexity in environments like the Antarctic. There are a number of things that can go wrong, and the team’s goal is to be prepared, not only to operate the system safely, but also to adapt the aircraft mission to ever changing conditions,” said a Pulse spokesman.
CReSIS is a National Science Foundation funded Center of Excellence headquartered at The University of Kansas and is comprised of six additional partner institutions. For more information about CReSIS visit www.cresis.ku.edu .

Pulse Aerospace, Inc. is a Kansas based unmanned aircraft developer and flight control system supplier that has recently announced the release of the wePilot3000 redundant automatic flight control systems for unmanned aircraft. For more information contact Pulse’s website at www.pulseaero.com .