Antarctica at Last
The Meridian has finally arrived in Antarctica. Follow their progress in the blog updated by Bill Donovan, chief designer, at meridianuas.blogspot.com.
Meridian Flies in Antarctica
On 31 December, the Meridian UAV made its first flight in the southern hemisphere, out of Pegasus Field, near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. The approximately 20 minute flight included continous autonomous control for just over 14 minutes, giving a boost to confidence to the flight test team and the flight control engineering in particular.
The Meridian UAV
The Meridian UAV is designed to provide an aerial platform for ice-penetrating radar developed at KU. This radar system has been developed by colleagues in the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). Information on the morphology of the ice and, especially, the condition of the ice where it meets bedrock will be derived from the radar data. Such data is expected to better-allow glaciologists to predict the flow of ice sheets into oceans. CReSIS is a Science and Technology Center of the National Science Foundation.
The Meridian has been developed over the last 5 years by a team of involving many current and
former students and 6 faculty members, including Rick Hale, Shah Keshmiri, Mark Ewing, Dave Downing (recently retired), Ray Taghavi and Richard Colgren.
The first flight of the Meridian UAV was flown from a grass strip at nearby Ft. Riley. The US Army has been exceptionally supportive of the team, providing access to the restricted airspace needed to fly uninhabited vehicles.
The Meridian arrives at Ft. Riley without
Jon Tom and Bill Donovan power up
With the recent success under their belt, 8 members of the flight test team left over the Labor Day weekend to the remote Dugway Proving Grounds outside Salt Lake City to continue flight testing. After four successful flights, the team returned to KU to continue plans to deploy to Antarctica in December.
Check out the youtube link where you’ll see a video documenting the first flight. The video also includes an interview with team leader, Associate Professor Rick Hale, and voice-overs by the chief designer, doctoral candidate Bill Donovan (BS AE 2006).
Building the Meridian
The first Meridian-class uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) built for Arctic exploration rolled out of the Garrison Flight Research Center's main hangar in December 2008. This UAV, and others to come, will be flown in Greenland and Antarctica as part of a 5-year, $19 million research grant by the National Science Foundation to KU's Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CRESIS)
KUAE's responsibility under the CRESIS grant is to provide an aerial platform for ultra-sensitive ice-penetrating radar developed in KU's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. The Meridian will begin flights this year with 8 aerodynamic antennas slung beneath the wing.
The first Meridian has been designed and built on-campus over the past 2 years. Pictures of the manufacturing process can be viewed in the albums below. Photos courtesy of Bill Donovan, KUAE doctoral student.