You'll see this very low in the sky over parts of Cedar Rapids and Linn County beginning Tuesday, May 2. So what is it?

Marisa Lubeck, USGS

You're probably not going to believe this, but it's part of a groundwater study that could be very beneficial to Linn County residents in future years. The study is being done to help the U.S. Geological Survey determine just how much water is down there, feeding the Cedar Rapids Aquifer and future needs of Cedar Rapids and Linn County.

The giant sensor above will be hanging from a helicopter that will be flying only about 200 feet above the ground. The sensor itself will be hanging 100 feet below the copter, making it only 100 feet above the ground. Being that close to the ground allows the sensor to take measurements up to 150 feet underground. The helicopter and tethered sensor will be traveling at the speed limit of Iowa interstates, about 70 miles-per-hour. This should be something to see. I should also tell you the helicopter pilots are specially trained for low-level flying.

Greg Delzer, USGS

Greg Delzer, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey says,

This advanced technology allows us to efficiently look into the subsurface of the Cedar River Aquifer without drilling wells. The data will allow us to map and model the aquifer system so that the city can effectively manage these critical water supplies long into the future.”

It will be a big benefit to Cedar Rapids, according to the city's utilities engineering manager Bruce Jacobs:

The model will be an essential planning tool for the City of Cedar Rapids. It will provide the insight needed to evaluate the effects of a prolonged drought and allow us to predict how our aquifer would respond to increased water supply demands.”

The USGS provided this map of areas of Cedar Rapids that are likely to see the copter and sensor beginning Monday, May 2. It's expected to only take a couple days so share this info with your friends and they'll be in the know too.


[via USGS and City of Cedar Rapids]