Carrying two bespoke radars powered by the aircraft's electrical system, the professor and her fellow researchers plan to not only map the glacial surfaces, but probe hundreds of meters into the ice. This kind of detailed data collection is not possible with satellite imagery, which covers great expanses but with less precision/far less resolution than low-altitude radar grid mapping. The UAV will operant in an environment of extreme cold temperatures with winds that can reach 55 knots — all while carrying a 10-pound payload. The specifications are for a mission endurance longer than 25 minutes. This means hardware more capable than the typical off-the-shelf solution.
Arnold and her other University of Kansas collaborators aim to gather data that will help scientists better understand the physics and dynamics of ice. “We want to know what [glaciers'] contribution is to global sea level rise” will be, says Arnold.
See the details here: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1848210