BAS has developed an aerogravity system that can be mounted in one of its aircraft. The system has been used to collect over 100,000 km of data since it was …
Airborne Geophysics, West Antarctica
- Lat. 80°0'0"S, Long. 90°0'0"W
Expertise and capability
The British Antarctic Survey operates a Twin Otter aircraft with a certified fit of airborne geophysics instrumentation that support our programme of sustained observations.
An airborne geophysical capability is deployed on low-cost piloted and autonomous aircraft. This instrument suite includes gravimeter, magnetometers and ice-penetrating radar, which can be flown with LIDAR in support. The suite has been widely employed on NERC and other grants.
The instrument suite includes ice penetrating radar, gravimeter, magnetometers and laser scanner. The systems are all synchronised by a distributed GPS NMEA and 1pps signal. Real time data is reviewed and the systems controlled from a central command console or via tablet computer. The survey network system lets multiple operators view and use the equipment installed on the aircraft, though normally standard missions are flown by one pilot and one operator.
The Twin Otter aircraft is a very adaptable platform used the world over as a ‘bush’ aircraft. Its twin turbo-prop engines and ‘Short Take off and Landing’ (STOL) capability allow it to be operated from small, remote unpaved airfields. The addition of skis or tundra tyres also allows operation on snow and from remote camps. The aircraft can be operated single pilot and a long range fuel tank is also available. Double cargo doors provide good access for installing instrument racks. In general the aircraft works in the Antarctic from October through to March each year. Outside the Antarctic season the aircraft is available in the Northern hemisphere.
Installations are flexible allowing for tailored missions for gravity, radar, magnetics or hyperspectral missions or any combinations of the systems. Hard points in the wings allow for mounting of 8 radar antenna and instrumentation. Pods can be fitted at the wing tips for the magnetometer installation.
The floor hatch opening can accommodate a laser range finder or scanning laser which can be used for measuring ice floe topography and ice surface. The required GPS and attitude measurements to support this are available from a Leica and Novatel based with built in system redundancy. A digital SLR camera can also be fitted to provide visual references for the data sets. A hyperspectral suite of imaging equipment can be utilised in the camera bay for a wide range of survey applications such as geology or vegetation studies. The camera bay can also be utilised to drop airborne deployable sensors and towed sensor arrays such as low frequency radars.
The radar system is composed of a complex waveform generator, signal processor, data handler and data store. It includes a high power transmitter (up to 66dBm or 4kW), a low …
1 August, 2018
A new ‘heat map’ shows, in unprecedented detail, how geothermal heat is escaping through the Earth’s surface beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. This is critical information for enabling scientists to …
24 May, 2018
Revealing Antarctica’s hidden world
23 January, 2016
Scientists now have a new tool to investigate the deep structure of the least understood continent on Earth
23 November, 2015
New season tackles ambitious science and logistical challenges The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) 2015/16 field season is underway with dozens of scientists and support staff – together with planes and tonnes …
19 November, 2014
Antarctic “ghost mountains” preserved by ice sheet A new study reveals how the rugged ridgelines of East Antarctica’s ancient and mysterious ‘ghost mountains’ have been preserved for millions of years …
27 January, 2014
In this month’s International Innovation journal Dr Fausto Ferraccioli discusses how airborne geophysics can be used to uncover the geology of Antarctica and explore some of the Earth’s final frontiers. …
16 November, 2011
Gamburtsev Mountains enigma unraveled in interior East Antarctica The birth of the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains buried beneath the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet — a puzzle mystifying scientists since their …
3 March, 2011
Ice structures found among hidden Antarctic mountains The discovery of numerous large ice structures within Antarctica’s Dome A region, the site of the buried ‘ghost mountains’, reveals new understanding about …
13 October, 2008
Challenge to discover Antarctica”s hidden world Later this month teams of scientists, engineers, pilots and support staff from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), USA, Germany, Australia, China and Japan will join …
West Antarctic ‘rivers’ of ice
Exploring Antarctica's 'ghost mountains'
An international project called GOCE+Antarctica- Dynamic Antarctic Lithosphere supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) was launched in late January 2016 as part of its Support to Science program. This …
The polar regions have the capacity to amaze and astound, but despite the considerable progress of recent decades we still know far less about them than less remote parts of …