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Student Journalist Going to Greenland on a Paid Internship!

By Eve Lamborn

The team proposed building a vehicle that carries a radar system across the ice, with a snowmobile-like vehicle flanking it and carrying an antenna to catch the radar signal. This fully autonomous system will collect information about ice thickness, internal layers and the presence of water at the base of the ice sheets. Experts in robotics, intelligent systems and remote sensing are collaborating on the project.

They also proposed a strong public outreach phase, to generate interest in and educate people about Polar Regions. This involves a Web site that will allow students to follow the vehicles via satellite, as well as my internship, designed to give a journalism student a chance to experience science reporting.

The project is just now beginning to gather momentum, and they won’t be testing any equipment on the ice for a couple of years. But other KU scientists, also affiliated with the University of Kansas’ Information and Telecommunications Technology Center, will be doing field work in Greenland this summer for similar ongoing projects. As the resident science reporter, I was invited along.

One such project is the work of Pannirselvam Kanagartnam, who received a doctoral degree from KU this spring. As part of a NASA-funded fellowship, he developed an airborne radar that maps internal ice layers so that scientists can see how quickly snow is accumulating on the ice and how that rate of accumulation has changed over the years. This summer, he will make flights over the ice with the radar, and I’ll be able to take in some flights with him. Waleed Abdalati, manager of the polar program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said the information collected would go straight into the models scientists used to understand ice changes.

My short and unremarkable career as a journalist, highlighted by a one-semester stint as a staff reporter at the school paper, is about to take a big leap forward. I’m excited to see Greenland, but I’m also thrilled about the opportunity to be a professional journalist. I had not seriously considered science reporting before this, but if on-location assignments always come with the job, then I just might.

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