University of Kansas' Meridian UAV will fly over Arctic ice

Usually, when we cover things like airplanes, it's because they are powered by alternative energy sources, like solar. Sometimes, we focus on flying machines which are lighter than air. This one, though, has caught our interest for another reason entirely, namely, taking detailed pictures and monitoring the arctic ice. It is pretty well known that the amount of ice in the arctic is shrinking, and scientists worry about the loss. Currently, all of the flights overhead are manned and rather dangerous. This is the reason that the University of Kansas is working on this unmanned plane, with a budget of $2 million. If that seems like a lot of money, it is! But off-the-shelf UAVs can cost many times that amount. The machine boasts a 26-foot wingspan. Those wings are actually heated so that the controls will not freeze in the sub-zero conditions. We hope that when the machine (.pdf) finally does fly, perhaps sometime next year, that it will be able to report some good news for a change.

[Source: Technology Review]

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