Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

An adventure in Antarctica

An adventure in Antarctica behind Tauranga tech team’s bid for NZ Space Challenge

22 May 2018

A childhood dream to explore Antarctica has led a Tauranga-based tech expert to design an innovative solution to navigate the extreme environments of Antarctica and outer Space.

That design has earned him the place of regional finalist in the NZ Space Challenge and his team will attend the Grand Final of the national challenge in Christchurch this Thursday.

The concept is the brain child of GPS Control Systems Ltd and group mastermind John Ahearn said the mission was to find new way of transporting large-scale science projects further into the polar region than ever before.

Ahearn’s team have designed a Global Navigation Satellite System to help heavy tracked vehicles detect and avoid perilous ice shelf crevasses while traversing the Antarctic ice fields - and potentially some of outer space’s trickiest pitfalls.

“A convoy of heavy tracked vehicles can drag many more tonnes of equipment than a plane can carry, and can travel in almost any weather. The constraint is ice shelf crevasses, which our navigation system tackles,” Ahearn says.

He said other benefits were minimising crew stress and fatigue, getting equipment where it needs to be safely and on time and compliance with the Antarctic Treaty.

GPS Control Systems beat other applicants from Northland, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty to emerge as one of the five NZ Space Challenge regional finalists.

Ahearn admits he may have a competitive advantage over other teams as he recently visited the Antarctic on a field trip as part of a Post Graduate Certificate in Antarctic studies at Canterbury University.

“My assignment was about Machine Control Applications in the Antarctic, which focused on guiding machines across the ice shelf to the hot water drilling site,” he says.

He chose that topic because it relates closely to his professional experience – and the hope that it would result in the opportunity to return to Antarctica with his work mates to install one.

“They were of course, very envious of my trip!” he says of team mates Wade Riley from Hawkes Bay and Russell Van de Laak of Pukekohe.

“So yes, it would appear I have a competitive advantage from thinking about this problem for a long time and having been down there. I like to think it was my creative and innovative mind at work but maybe it was just very good luck,” he says.

As well as real-life experience on the Antarctic, Ahearn says he’s been fan of the icy continent for a very long time.

“My interest in the Antarctic comes from reading the stories of the heroic age of Antarctic exploration when I was about 8 years old,” Ahearn says.

“The journeys of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and others were absolutely amazing. Not only did they explore but they did science on the way,” he says.

Now, over a century since the first Antarctic expeditions, The NZ Space Challenge brings together some of the brightest minds from across the country to use space data and intelligence to solve navigation issues on the ice in the Antarctic.

It is the brain child of space enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, Eric Dahlstrom and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom who have forged international careers in the space community and have chosen to settle in New Zealand, establishing SpaceBase with fellow co-founder Rich Bodo.

SpaceBase has partnered with economic development agency ChristchurchNZ to deliver this national challenge and the winners will be announced in Christchurch on Thursday as part of the Techweek’18 event, Extreme Environments – from Antarctica to Space.

ChristchurchNZ chief executive Joanna Norris says New Zealand has a vibrant tech sector full of world-class ingenuity, as clearly demonstrated by the finalists.

“We’re very proud to support the growth of the country’s technology and innovation sectors, which are growing rapidly and make an important contribution to the nation’s economy,” Ms Norris says.

“These world-leading solutions to the challenges presented by Antarctica and Space are not just good for our country, but innovation that’s good for the world.”

This Thursday Ahearn and his team will join the five other regional finalists to pitch their Antarctic navigation innovations to a panel of national and international judges, with $40k going to the winning designer.

The event will appeal to those from the science, research, technology, innovation and education eco-systems and anybody with an interest in the Antarctic and Space and saving the world.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Intertubes: Hawaiki Cable In Business

Hawaiki Submarine Cable has begun commercial operations for its 15,000 km fibre optic deep-sea cable linking Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and the United States. More>>

ALSO:

Geothermal: World-Leading Silica Extraction Project

Geo40, in cooperation with Contact Energy and the Ngati Tahu Tribal Lands Trust, is this month set to start commercially extracting silica from geothermal fluid as part of a world-leading sustainable energy partnership. More>>

Electrical Vehicles: New Database of Charging Stations

EVRoam, a real-time database of public charging infrastructure, provides one view of a safe, reliable and interoperable public charging network for electric vehicles in New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

FMA Mulls Legal Action: Customers Not Focus At Insurers

Most firms had processes in place to identify when a customer was being advised to replace life or health insurance... Generally, these processes seemed oriented towards reducing firms’ legal risk, rather than to identifying and mitigating risks for customers. More>>

ALSO:

Brands Sale To RJ's: Nestle Job Losses “A Bolt From The Blue”

E tū has about 200 members at the plant, where up to 55 workers could lose their jobs... Well-known Kiwi brands affected by the sale include Mackintosh’s, Heards, Black Knight liquorice, Life Savers and Oddfellows. More>>

ALSO:

'Sanctuaries': New Seabed Mining Project Threatens Endangered Species

Greenpeace is shocked to discover that a new seabed mining exploration permit has been awarded inside a Marine Mammal Sanctuary, and is calling on the Government to reject all attempts to mine the seabed. More>>

ALSO: