Australia: Scientists at the University of Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Division have developed OktoKopter, a tiny remote-controlled helicopter to help them map fragile coastal moss beds in Antarctica.
OktoKopter uses remote sensing techniques to monitor the impact of changes in temperature, wind speed and UV radiation. It will be used in Antarctica in February 2011.
Project leader, Dr Arko Lucieer said that the OktoKopter was built in Germany but adapted by the Tasmanian team for the Antarctic project. “The OktoKopter is equipped with visible colour, near-infrared and thermal-infrared cameras as well as an autopilot system that allows it to fly to pre-programmed GPS waypoints. This will allow us to produce a detailed digital elevation model of the terrain and collect ultra-high resolution imagery down to a resolution of one centimetre,” Dr Lucieer added.
“We tried to study the mosses with high resolution satellite imagery but the resolution wasn’t high enough; so we built an unmanned aerial vehicle with sensors to detect the health of these mosses,” Dr Lucieer continued.
Antarctic Division botanist, Dana Bergstrom, said that the OktoKopter will provide the first comprehensive picture of any changes in the moss.
Source: ABC News & Business Review