Reaching new heights to study oldest life on Earth

Monday 19 September 2016
Planetary Scientist Dr Aditya Chopra Photo credit: RohanThomson

RSES post-doctoral researcher Aditya Chopra recently undertook field-trips to the world heritage listed Shark Bay Nature Reserve and the Pilbara in Western Australia with technology that is offering a new perspective to scientists. His trip was enabled by a travel grant from the Australian Geoscience Council and the Australian Academy of Science.

Drones offer higher resolution maps than those available from satellites or aircrafts. “The drone-based aerial surveys of the complex microbial communities that build the stromatolites will enable researchers to study how these communities respond to extreme weather events, rising sea-levels and ocean acidification,” said Dr Chopra.

Advancements in technology have made it possible for us to readily construct 3D maps of sites of geological interest and fly around them virtually. “The big picture context from our vantage point up in the air helps guide our research efforts and it is also a valuable teaching tool,” said Dr Chopra.

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