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The Climate Drone That Goes Where Scientists Fear to Tread

The Manta explores and monitors Greenland's treacherous glaciers.

By Eric Roston
Feb 23, 2009 6:00 AMNov 12, 2019 6:34 AM


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How much ice melted on Greenland last summer? Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) knew that dispatching a crew to the glaciers to find out was too risky. So to gather data that satellites could not provide, they turned to unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. The 6-foot-long, 45-pound planes, called Mantas, can run for about six hours on gas-powered engines and fly as high as 16,000 feet. They are built by Advanced Ceramics Research and fitted with scientific equipment by NOAA.

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