Drone-mounted UWB radar system for measuring snowpack properties: Technical implementation, specifications and initial results

Jenssen, Rolf-Ole Rydeng; Eckerstorfer, Markus; Jacobsen, Svein Ketil; Storvold, Rune


Event: International Snow Science Workshop (Innsbruck)

Date: 7. October 2018 –12. October 2018

Year: 2018

Organiser: ISSW Steering Committee

FULLTEKST: www.researchgate.net/publication/328042098_Drone-mounted_UWB_radar_system_for_measuring_snowpack_properties_Technical_implementation_specifications_and_initial_results

Airborne ground penetrating radar systems allow for carrying out snowpack surveys in complex terrain. Ultra-wideband radars operate within the lower part of the microwave band and are suitable for measurements of snow depth and layering in a time-saving and safe manner. We have developed a complete radar system based on a commercial UWB radar sensor, custom designed antennas and a single board acquisition computer in all weighing 4 kg and fitting (without antennas) into a 30 x 25 x 15 cm3box. The radar is capable of measurements with a frequency range from 0.95 - 6 GHz, giving roughly 5 cm slant range resolution and an unambiguous range in air of 5.75 m. The radar can be carried by an octocopter drone with a wingspan of 1.5 m, flying autonomously at an altitude of 1 m above the snow surface. In this paper, we present the characteristics and specification of our drone-borne radar system and show results from two different campaigns. We were able to resolve snow stratigraphy in great detail in a dry snowpack, identifying the most prominent layers. Our second example shows the system’s capabilities of detecting a person buried under 1.5 m of wet snow.