Drones and weather balloons team up in Arctic tests

By Mark Rockwell

Arctic tests that paired drones and weather balloons could help improve data collection and provide a model for agencies looking to operate unmanned aerial systems in extreme climates.

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratory combined 13 foot-tall tethered weather balloons with free-ranging weather-data-collecting octocopter aerial drones in a restricted airspace test site that extends from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay almost to the North Pole.

The test site is a 700-mile-long, 40-mile-wide stretch of airspace from Oliktok Point – the northernmost point of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. The area was put under the stewardship of Sandia, the Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Administration in 2015 and serves as the base of operations for Sandia's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility.

Sonar technology to help Arctic research vessel safety

Sonar technology is anticipated to be a key safety feature of a polar research vessel currently being constructed.

FarSounder's longest range sonar system FarSounder-1000 is believed to be amongst the technology being installed on the British Antarctic Survey's RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Sally Dale, managing director of UK-based Pinpoint Electronics, the local FarSounder representative for the project, said: “Over my years in the industry, I have learned the best way to achieve the highest level of safety is by adding a FarSounder sonar to the navigation suite.”

The FarSounder sonar was primarily created for navigation and obstacle avoidance to help ensure vessel safety.

Its technology and the data it can generate is intended to supplement the more traditional onboard science mission sensors.

How a middle-aged Midwestern nobody made his mark in the Arctic

By Sarah Kaplan, The Washington Post

In 1845, two of the best ships England could build set off on a quest to find the fabled Northwest Passage – then vanished without a trace.

The mystery enthralled a generation of adventurers. No one could believe that the pride of the British Royal Navy, commanded by the legendary Sir John Franklin, had fallen victim to nature's wild menace. Convinced that there must be survivors, and tempted by the promise of a reward of 20,000 pounds from Franklin's wife, Jane, the best explorers of the era converged on the Arctic.

 

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