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Robots fly into Antarctic skies

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Moderator Moderator Webmaster

    A pair of lightweight, robotic planes have made the first unmanned flights over Antarctica's icy expanses.
    Driven by propeller, the machines made 20 low-altitude sorties, including four over the Weddell Sea.

    The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were launched by catapult but flew autonomously until landing.

    During some of the test flights the machines were fitted with miniaturised instruments to collect data for use in predictive climate models.

    "One of the biggest uncertainties in those models is the physics of sea-ice - how it freezes and how it melts," said Dr Phil Anderson of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), one of the team that carried out the tests.

    "A lot of this happens during the Antarctic winter - the nine-month period when we can't get ships and aircraft to the bases - so we decided to see if we could [collect this data] by robot aircraft."

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