NASA Drone Mapping Earthquake Faults

Caitlin Dempsey


Wired has a pictorial on the latest effort by NASA to map California’s earthquake faults:

In hopes of understanding California’s deadly earthquake potential better, NASA scientists are using a jet outfitted with a custom autopilot system and specialized radar to map the faults with extreme precision. The system, known as Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), consists of a 10-foot-long pod that can be mounted to a variety of aircraft.

As the radar flies over the earthquake faults, the UAVSAR pod takes hi-res images beneath the Earth’s surface. Its autopilot system allows it to repeatedly fly over the same areas within a 15-foot margin of error.

The data from a single flight won’t tell scientists much about the faults, but when the fault is scanned again hours, days, weeks or months later, any movement becomes evident using what is called interferometry – a practice that makes differences between multiple data sets obvious.

The article contains a slew of close up pictures of the plane and equipment.

Read more: NASA Drone Uses Radar to Map Quake Faults in 3-D

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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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