It's been a long time coming, but the Meridian aircraft that Kansas researchers set out to build late last year is nearly complete. Reportedly, the unmanned polar plane is part of "a larger effort at the University of Kansas's Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets," and it will head to locales such as Greenland and areas of the Antarctic in order to "provide a detailed picture of ice layers and, in particular, the boundary between ice and ground." To withstand the chilly temperatures it's bound to face, designers have even equipped the wings with de-icing capabilities and heaters to keep the internal electronics from freezing up. If all goes as planned, Meridian will head out on its "maiden flight next summer," with another trip slated for later in 2008.

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Kansas researchers readying unmanned polar plane