KU receives federal grant to improve radar systems to measure thickness of ice sheets, monitor climate change

photo by: Submitted: KU/U.S. Navy

The Vanilla UAS, a drone that KU is working to equip with a new radar system, is pictured.

A University of Kansas department has received nearly $1 million in federal funding to develop new radar systems to collect greater amounts of data about melting ice sheets and their impact on climate change.

The KU-based Center for Remote Sensing and Integrated Systems has received the funding from the National Science Foundation to create radar systems that can better attach to drones that can fly over Antarctica and other cold-weather climates.

Researchers currently use radar-equipped drones to measure the thickness of ice sheets, but the drones often have a limited distance they can travel. Engineers with the KU center have been tasked with creating a radar system that can attach to drones with a greater flight range. KU is hoping the end result will be that greater flying ranges will eliminate gaps in data that researchers currently struggle with when monitoring the huge continent of Antarctica.

KU is partnering with Maryland-based Platform Aerospace, which has a drone that has set several endurance records. The team expects the drone equipped with the new KU radar system to be able to fly about 2,850 miles over a two-day period.

KU engineers, however, are designing the new system to ultimately work with a variety of drones, meaning the university may be able to use the radar technology on a variety of partnerships.


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