Landmine Detection

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We’re at a testing site where they’re about to fire a large bullet from a gun that’s practically the size of a cannon.

ambience Gunshot

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. That gunshot may sound dangerous, but it’s actually intended to save lives. Here at the University of Missouri, scientists are working on a new method of detecting landmines — the hidden explosives which, according to the Red Cross, kill or injure 70 people a day throughout the world. Scientists such as Greg Engel are developing a way to find landmines, using special radar bullets fired from a helicopter.

“We shoot a projectile that has active electronics into the ground. You use a gun to shoot it into the ground, but the bullet itself, when it hits the ground, converts that high-velocity energy in the bullet into electrical energy. We take that electrical energy and turn it into a radar pulse that radiates out into the soil and reflects off the landmines.”

The radar signal is then picked up by detectors on board the helicopter. Sophisticated computers then generate an accurate map showing hidden landmines, which could later be defused by robots.

“It’s inherently safe, since it’s in the air, and it’s very fast.”

The technology is still in its research stage, but scientists say that it’s promising and could have a number of uses, beyond detecting landmines.

“I envision using this in future space travel, to go to a different planet. Shoot this projectile into the ground, and you’re looking for water deposits, or mineral deposits or underground caves.”

Radar bullets could also be used here on earth, to look for underground deposits of water and minerals. Please visit our website at nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

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Landmine Detection

Scientists are working on a way to find hidden landmines by firing special radar bullets into the ground. It's a system that could also help find water on Mars.
Air Date:09/13/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

music


We're at a testing site where they're about to fire a large bullet from a gun that's practically the size of a cannon.

ambience Gunshot

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. That gunshot may sound dangerous, but it's actually intended to save lives. Here at the University of Missouri, scientists are working on a new method of detecting landmines -- the hidden explosives which, according to the Red Cross, kill or injure 70 people a day throughout the world. Scientists such as Greg Engel are developing a way to find landmines, using special radar bullets fired from a helicopter.

"We shoot a projectile that has active electronics into the ground. You use a gun to shoot it into the ground, but the bullet itself, when it hits the ground, converts that high-velocity energy in the bullet into electrical energy. We take that electrical energy and turn it into a radar pulse that radiates out into the soil and reflects off the landmines."

The radar signal is then picked up by detectors on board the helicopter. Sophisticated computers then generate an accurate map showing hidden landmines, which could later be defused by robots.

"It's inherently safe, since it's in the air, and it's very fast."

The technology is still in its research stage, but scientists say that it's promising and could have a number of uses, beyond detecting landmines.

"I envision using this in future space travel, to go to a different planet. Shoot this projectile into the ground, and you're looking for water deposits, or mineral deposits or underground caves."

Radar bullets could also be used here on earth, to look for underground deposits of water and minerals. Please visit our website at nationalgeographic.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

music