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TREX 2018 Day 8: Iceman returns

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TREX 2018 Day 8: Iceman returns

By Meghan Reisenauer ‘19

I can’t believe we’ve already been in Hawaii for more than a week! Today, our small group of James, David, Josh and I went back to Richard Ha’s farm with Professor Kocar. We took some more soil and corn samples to analyze back at the cabin. We also sent out Iceman the drone for two more flights. This time, Iceman had the new far-infrared camera strapped on, as well as the normal RGB camera and the near-infrared we’d previously had on the drone. We took heat readings at each sample site from the other day and today, to compare with the data from Iceman’s flights.

James working the drone controller

David places a mat to give Iceman a soft landing

The far infrared camera also has a virtual-reality-type headset which can be used to watch the view of the far-IR camera as the drone flies around the field. It was so cool to see the heat coming off the rows of corn in real time! We’ll use this data later in conjunction with the near-IR and temperature readings.

Professor Kocar and David trying out the headset

We had to stay a bit longer at the farm than expected, because our car was used to charge the drone battery, and the minivan’s battery died! We were rescued some time later by a farm employee, but in the meantime David and Josh held a trowel-throwing competition to pass the time.

David and Josh showing their skills at trowel-throwing

We made it back to the cabin with more bags of soil to test for nutrient content and pH. Just after we arrived, the other group made it back from pulling sensor data on our path from yesterday. We made dinner and spent a nice evening in the warmth of the cabin after another day of (scientific) mud.

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.