Norut in the skies above Antarctica

Norut in the skies above Antarctica

February 18, 2009

Norut's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is back in the air to map the ice around the South Pole.

This weekend the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse in Antarctica will meet the Ministers of Environment from 11 different countries.

If everything goes according to plan, the second leg of the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse expedition will arrive at the Norwegian research base Troll in Dronning Maud Land on February 22.

They will be met there by the 11 ministers from around the world, who are on a study tour to Antarctica.

The touring party also includes Nobel Prize winner Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairperson of the United Nations' Panel on Climate Change. Climate change issues and consequences is the main theme of the ministers' stay in Antarctica.

The Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development is hosting the ministerial tour to Antarctica. Participants include China's Minister of Planning and Climate Change Xie Zhenhua, Great Britain's Minister of Environment Hilary Benn, Brazil's Minister of Environment Carlos Minc Baumfeld and Denmark's Minister of Climate Change Hedegaard.

Light aircraft with radar sounder

Engineer Andreas Tøllefsen from Norut Tromsø is one of the 12 participants on the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica. He is responsible for the UAV, which is equipped with radar sounders to measure the ice.

The UAV has a range of around 500 km, which enables data to be collected from a much larger area than the actual expedition can cover.

The Department of Earth Observation at Norut Tromsø owns and operates the UAV, and is also responsible for interpreting the data which is collected.

Returning from the South Pole

At the end of 2007, Scientist Stian Solbø from Norut Tromsø participated in the first leg of the Norwegian-U.S. Scientific Traverse. The expedition started at Troll research base and ended near the South Pole.

The expedition is now returning to Troll. The vehicles, sleds and field equipment are waiting pending their return. A fresh team of 12 has been on this expedition which set off from South Pole on December 23 and is expected to arrive at Troll on February 22.

Science stop

There have been a total of seven science stops during the traverse. Norut's UAV has collected data which the scientists will later process and interpret.

The collection of data in Antarctica has posed challenges, according to the engineer from Norut Tromsø.

Read Andreas Tøllefsen's experiences from the test flight in the expedition diary

The expedition diary: Follow the expedition from day to day

Read more about Norut's UAV activity