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Glaciers and mountains in 3D - DLR special camera flies over Himalayas for first time

24 January 2014

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Time and again, Himalayan landslides and flash floods cost the lives of dozens of people in Nepal, sweeping away entire villages and infrastructure like bridges and roads. Until now, the images of this remote region have been acquired by satellites. But now, as part of a measurement campaign by the Mountain Wave Project (MWP) set to last several weeks, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), with a special focus on security research, will test an innovative camera system that takes detailed aerial images from a motorised glider.

The flights at high altitude are used for validation of the developed optical sensor system. The researchers intend to use these pictures to create precise 3D models of various Nepalese regions, among other things to improve forecasts of hazards to the population. This involves close cooperation with the Nepalese authorities and an international team comprising scientists from the states bordering on the Himalayas (ICIMOD). There are flights scheduled for the Annapurna and the southern Everest region. The scientists are maintaining a blog to provide continuous reports on the events of their audacious research travels.

"We completed the first Himalaya flight with our camera on 23 January 2014," says project leader Joerg Brauchle from the DLR Institute of Optical Sensor Systems in Berlin. He is in Nepal to lead the DLR contribution to the expedition. "We shot first-class, multi-spectral images with a resolution of 20 centimetres at an altitude of 6400 metres above Khali Gandhaki Valley. The optical data provided by the camera could not be better for 3D modelling of mountainous regions."

Source: DLR