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Snow measurement technology for drones

Electricity in Norway is almost exclusively from hydro power, and the amount of snow in the mountains have huge economic impacts.

A Norwegian company is developing drones for snow measurement and is interested in sensors to quantify the amount (thickness) and quality (density, water content) of snow. The weight and footprint of the sensor system should be as small as possible, preferably under 5 kg and 10x10x30 cm and obviously have to handle low temperatures. Please note that these are not absolute numbers, and bigger airframes can be used if necessary. The system should be able to detect and calculate the volume and density of the snow body covering the landscape, with a snow thicknesses in the range of 0 to 10 meters and an average of 2-3 meters. Their original technology of choice is no longer viable and thus they are using the ESA Technology Transfer Broker Network (and the space companies’ offers in each of the Brokers countries) to search for space technologies to cover this need.

So far the most relevant technology they have come across is Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), although size, functionality and accuracy have not been investigated. Snow measurements from earth observation satellites can also be of interest, depending on the accuracy of the data produced.