Drones Zero in on Drag Marks in the Desert

Sci­en­tists aim to fly drones over the desert sur­round­ing the pyra­mids, zoom­ing in on de­tails of the enig­matic struc­tures.

Science Illustrated - - HISTORY -

The pyra­mids weigh mil­lions of tonnes, but they were still built in only a few decades. How it was done re­mains a mys­tery, but sci­en­tists work­ing for the Egyp­tian Min­istry of An­tiq­ui­ties will try to find out via the ScanPyra­mids project, which aims to map out the pyra­mids very ac­cu­rately, re­veal­ing any signs of the an­cient con­struc­tion meth­ods.

Sci­en­tists will pho­to­graph four of the largest Egyp­tian pyra­mids us­ing two dif­fer­ent types of drones. First, a fixed-wing will pho­to­graph the sur­round­ings of the pyra­mids with a de­gree of ac­cu­racy of down to 5 cm. Sub­se­quently, a he­li­copter drone will take close-ups of the stone blocks with a de­gree of ac­cu­racy of down to 1 cm, and fi­nally, a laser scan­ner, whose light im­pulses can reach even the dark­est and nar­row­est cor­ners will make an ac­cu­rate 3D model of the pyra­mids. PO­TEN­TIAL: Re­veal­ing how the Egyp­tians built the pyra­mids us­ing sim­ple an­cient meth­ods. CHAL­LENGE: Sci­en­tists must ex­am­ine huge quan­ti­ties of ma­te­rial in de­tail to find an­swers.

A A plane drone flies over the pyra­mid sur­round­ings in search of ev­i­dence of ramps or con­struc­tion paths.

B A he­li­copter drone hov­er­ing above the pyra­mid takes close-ups to find any scrape marks from tools on the stone blocks.

C A laser scan­ner pro­duces a 3D model of joints and any shift­ing of the pyra­mid's stone struc­ture.

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