Airborne scanners, which are similar to satellite data in that they record digital data that can be easily manipulated by computers, have the added benefit of a much smaller spatial resolution. In addition they can be flown at different altitudes and times of day required by specific research needs. Modern airborne scanners have thermal capabilities that may be able to locate individual buried site features. Thermal data are useful for locating archaeological resources because they can actually measure the heat difference in the ground. Heat differences in the soil can be an indicator of buried stone structures, as these can act as passive solar collectors during the day, soaking up the heat, and then releasing this heat in the afternoon and evening. They also can accentuate small variations in vegetation and soils.
ARIES Scanner System Description
The Aries scanner system is a French airborne digital radiometer system constructed by the Laboratiore de Météorologie Dynamique (CNRS, France). It has two channels, normally set with one in the area of the visible and near infrared, and the other in the thermal portion of the spectrum (Perisset and Tabbagh, 1981:185). Internal calibration of the thermal scanner can provide apparent temperature recording capability. The spatial resolution of the data is dependent on aircraft elevation, but 1-2 meter data are typical for missions such as ours. For this project, the ARIES scanner system was mounted in a single engine Pilatus aircraft, and three corridors within the research area were flown on March 12, 1987.
ARIES scanner showing destroyed villa at star
This image shows the Gallo-Roman villa site which is now a lake. The gravel mines continue to consume the land adjacent to the river.
There is a large, semicircular soil mark to the left of the star. The regular shape and large size make it likely that this is not a natural feature, but no field testing has been done yet.