Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Stunning 3D Scott Base model created by drone

New Zealand's Antarctic outpost has been recreated in a stunning 3D model, allowing people to view Scott Base from any aerial angle.

Anthony Powell, the award-winning film-maker of Antarctica: A Year On Ice, has been using photogrammetry software to build a 3D model, drawing upon hundreds of images he took above the base with a drone.

He'd earlier taken the photographs to share with a team of AUT scientists, led by Dr Barbara Bollard Breen and Professor Len Gillman.

Last summer, Bollard Breen's team used a fixed-wing drone and a propeller-driven craft to make aerial scans of the Dry Valleys, Botany Bay and the area around Captain Robert Scott's former hut.

"They were using these high-resolution sensor drones and were building up 3D maps of various areas, which they could rescan over time and track any minute changes," Powell said.

When the air space over Scott Base later became clear for Powell to fly a drone, he figured he could contribute to their project.

"I did a couple of flights, where I flew over the base and took several hundred photos, all from different angles.

"I've sent them a copy and just told them that they can use it however they like."

Back in his studio in Christchurch, Powell has been using them for his own project.

"I've been playing around with software that lets you look at the base from any angle or position.

"I figured this could be very handy for Antarctica New Zealand to be able to use for their planning for rebuilding the base, or looking at things like snowdrift.

"And then if they wanted to do something like training videos, they could generate a video that could be used to zoom into specific areas of the base and show it off, without having to send someone in to refilm it."

Operating drones in Antarctica wasn't straightforward for researchers.

If they could gain approval to use the machines in protected areas, they then had to work out how to protect them from the atmosphere of what is the driest, coldest and windiest place on the planet.

To shield their propeller-driven UAV's batteries from the freezing air, Breen's team used a polypropylene garment - or what she joked were "thermal undies" - to keep them warm.

The model isn't the only way people can virtually explore Scott Base: people can click here to take an online tour here, hosted by Powell himself.

- NZ Herald

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