Make Way for Drones
A new facility drives weather watchers off campus.
From the October, 2017 issue
The U-M's new research playground for drones has helped push the university's 130-year-old weather station off campus. The $800,000 outdoor fly lab--dubbed M-Air--will adjoin the engineering department's new Robotics Building, scheduled to open in fall 2019. The huge, net-topped area will let students and researchers conduct tests without worrying that their high-tech toys will endanger U-M hospital helicopters or other aircraft--but it's also the last straw for the climate data collection center, housed nearby at the space research building.
North Campus has grown immensely since what is now the climate and space sciences department moved there in 1974. Since more buildings and more concrete can heat up an area, "there were concerns we might be nearing a point where there might be some impact on temperature readings," says climate professor Frank Marsik.
Originally housed at the U-M Observatory, the station moved to the Geology Building (now C.C. Little) from 1944 to 1956, then to East Engineering (now East Hall) before relocating to North Campus. Its next location should be safe from encroaching development: it's moving to Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
[Originally published in October, 2017.]
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