We have been invited again to visit the Atacama region outside Iquique, Chile to explore and map out archaeological sites left likely by the Aymaras or Changos tribes. These tribes thrived between 600 and 1000 years ago. This is our second trip to the area, but still it’s obvious that excavation and exploration is very light. Protection of the most important sites is only just beginning. On our last trip we were able to snap this amazing photo of the Atacama Giant, the largest geoglyph of its kind, without anyone supervising the site. In fact, there was no one around for miles when we arrived, and this unfortunately meant that some people had free reign to drive over and ruin parts of the glyphs.
This year, there appeared to be some measures taken to protect the area. The primary purpose of the mission though was to collect aerial imagery to help identify and locate potential sites for excavation. Check out these mosaics of a few small areas of interest in the region.
For the second map, we intended to drive closer to the site but because of the 8.2 magnitude earthquake that had struck just days earlier, the roads were closed from all the rockslides it had caused. Luckily, we were able to send the plane out autonomously over a ridge then across a 3km valley to image the site remotely. We didn’t want to get too close to the closed roads, so here’s a picture of a recently cleared road that had been deemed ‘safe’.
This trip was also used to fine tune and field test the new E384, which has just been released. We tested flights out to 10km range, up to 70 minute flight duration and thanks to the peculiar geography in the area, we were able to test a high altitude take off at about 9,000 feet MSL. This was done in relatively light winds, with an air temperature of about 80F or 27C. A challenging test, for sure, but the E384 made it up very easily in auto take off! Check out this video of the test.
Want to stay up to date on our latest findings? Sign up for our newsletter!