And YOU think it’s too cold to fly?

And YOU think it’s too cold to fly?

Check out this team of researchers in Antarctica, flying a 100-pound aircraft to use radar to measure the ice-bed of sub-glacial Lake Whillans. Fielded by the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), this National Science Foundation project is studying ice melt and potential sea-level rise. The autopilot and ground control software for the aircraft is provided by Pulse Aerospace, which notes, “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.” The 2-minute video is an interesting peek into a unique way UAVs are helping scientists.

Updated: July 30, 2015 — 10:29 AM


  1. Interesting and timely story. I just wish there had been more info on the UAV.

  2. There is a mistake in the article. The aircraft is not 100lb, it is 1100 lb. The engineers who made the aircraft have an absolutely fascinating story. It, along w/a little more info. on the Meridian aircraft, can be found here:


  3. Hi Debra,
    Many years ago my friend Bob Carpenter, then a flight engineer in 36 SQN RAAF flying Hercules C130s flew to Antarctica as part of his duties with the RAAF. As an avid aeromodeller he took a model with him and was the first person to fly a radio control model aircraft there, an event that was reported at least in our Australian magazine Airborne.


  4. During this December summer season a team from Rhodes University in South Africa flew a hexcopter on mapping missions over various mountain formations in Antarctica. The hexcopter uses a DX8 and APM2.5 for control. It was built from aluminum rails and uses plastic kitchenware boxes to protect the electronics and batteries from the cold. Myself and a Geography department post-grad student built the hex in 5 weeks, though flight testing was delayed by bad weather and it only had one outdoor flight before the ship left Cape Town.

  5. That does not look like a 100lb aircraft. It would be interesting to get it on a scale.

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