scorecardTechnique used to track ants’ movement might soon help scientists in measuring snow depth from space
  1. Home
  2. Science
  3. Space
  4. news
  5. Technique used to track ants’ movement might soon help scientists in measuring snow depth from space

Technique used to track ants’ movement might soon help scientists in measuring snow depth from space

Technique used to track ants’ movement might soon help scientists in measuring snow depth from space
LifeScience2 min read
  • Concepts adapted from the mathematics and biology communities are being used to measure snow depth from space.
  • Inspiration for this new method came from ants' movement in their colonies.
  • This method is said to give a better understanding of climate change and the water cycle.
Yongxiang Hu, a scientist from NASA's Langley Research Center took inspiration from biology and physics to create a unique model to measure snow depth from space. The model is inspired by the average time taken by ants to walk inside the colony.

Inspired from the concept of how ants travel, Hu developed a method to directly measure snow depth using lidar measurements from Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2). Satellite uses pulses of laser similar to sonar to make measurements, which essentially sends sound waves and measures how long it takes to return.

Explaining the concept, Hu told that he studies the properties of clouds and learned that light bounces among cloud particles. This is very similar to ants’ movement inside their colony as ant moves in random directions before coming out. He thought the same ant theory can be applied to measure snow depth from space.

Explaining further he added, ant goes inside the colony and moves in random directions before coming out. Similarly, a photon light fired from the lidar instrument enters the snow and is scattered as it meets the snow particles until it exits and is collected by ICESat-2.

Hu used a special model simulation and equation which was similar to one from the ant problem, he identified he could measure the average distance a photon travelled inside the snow as it travels almost exactly the way ant travels inside its colony.

Hu’s new approach to make snow depth measurements can overcome the limitations of existing methods using space platforms as airborne measurement methods only allow to cover a limited amount of area.

Recently, scientists have used ICESat-2 to measure the top of the snow layer on sea ice and CryoSat-2's radar to observe the top of the sea ice beneath the snow layer. Direct measurements of snow depth can increase understanding of the water cycle and snowfall as snow plays a critical role in regulating climate.

The recent innovation of Hu's team will assist in better understanding and interpretation of snow depth measurements from space. ICESat-2 was launched in 2018 and it fires 10,000 laser pulses to measure the elevation of sea ice, forests, ice sheets and more in clear detail.

SEE ALSO:
Vivo X80 5G vs Xiaomi 12 Pro 5G: Which one should you buy?
All you need to know about PM Modi's 6G announcement

READ MORE ARTICLES ON




Advertisement