Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) performed its first flight within Canadian civil airspace, a mission to collect environmental data in the Canadian Arctic, the aerospace and defense manufacturer said Thursday, Dec. 19.
Image of a snow covered mountain taken from a high resolution camera on the NASA Global Hawk during a nighttime flight over the Canadian Arctic. Photo, courtesy of Northrop Grumman.
The flight was part of a collaborative project between Northrop Grumman and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Researchers equipped the aircraft with an uninhabited aerial vehicle synthetic aperture radar (UAVSAR) and a high-resolution camera to conduct ground mapping and visual observation of Arctic ice caps during a 21-hour flight.
Ground control station operators based controlled the Global Hawk flight from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. over several predetermined areas in the Arctic before returning it to NASA Dryden, Northrop said.
American and Canadian scientists are using information collected from the flight to study changes in topography and Arctic ice caps.
"Flying high and long missions with advanced scientific equipment over the Arctic provides scientists with real data to better understand the changes that are affecting our world," said Janis Pamiljans, Northrop Grumman's sector vice president and general manager of unmanned systems. "The high-altitude, long-endurance NASA Global Hawk is one of the best tools researchers have to study weather phenomena."