Laser Scanning on Kosrae, FSM

Wigner, Pete and Daniel scanning the Lelu site on Kosrae

We laser scanned five incredible and beautiful sites on Kosrae: the 1,200 year-old Polynesian Lelu ruins and four Japanese WWII-era sites: the radio station (the history of which was made into the film Up Periscope), a beachside pillbox, water tanks and a very tall set of stairs — 109 steps.

Pete and Wigner Scanning 2x tombs at Lelu

Scanning Lelu, the ancient living quarters and tombs of royal families, was remarkable. Teams of Kosraeans were sent in early to cut back the jungle so we had a better chance of setting targets. Then eight of us taped paper targets on trees and rocks – paving the way from one entrance, through rooms and canals to the tombs area – and lugged the heavy scanner through the area, collecting more than 20 scans that should result in an interesting and useful computer model. Taping paper targets on wet, steamy jungle was challenging; mapping a path of targets through the jungle was another. Let’s see if our collective geometry holds. The high heat and humidity were a real
challenge for all of us but we did a thorough job. None of us can wait to see the digital data and see Lelu come to life through point clouds.

Tim, Wigner and Leandro scanning the radio station

Scanning the WWII relics was slightly easier — we had old concrete walls to tape targets to and the beachside locations were stunningly beautiful. Today the radio station is in pretty bad shape. Later in the war the US Navy blew up the structure so it could not be reused, so it’s not exactly standing straight up. And 70 years of storms, coastal erosion, etc. have taken their toll on the site. It felt good to scan the building while it is still recognizable. The model that will be generated will also be added to the existing computer model of the island.

Not far down the beach from the radio station is a Japanese WWII-era pillbox. We scanned that as well, with the help of local Kosraean kids who live in the area. Another highlight.

Scanning the stairs to the WWII weather station

Lastly we scanned another Japanese WWII-era site consisting of a flight of concrete steps going up to the remains of an old weather station. Again, heat and humidity were intense and perching the $120,000 scanner precariously of the steep steps was really nerve-wracking but the job was completed without incident. We could not have done any of this work without the dedicated support from the Kosraean survey team. We’d love to return to Kosrae and capture more sites with them. Their insight into the history and which sites to scan was critical, and their company throughout the visit was excellent.

This work would not have been possible without the incredible generosity of McKim & Creed who provided the scanner and the expertise to run it.  We will not forget Tim Cawood and his ten HUGE boxes at the airport!

Pete thinks Kosrae is an undiscovered Garden of Eden. I think it may look like Kauai did 50 years ago? Scanning the staircase took the prize for views and total amount of sweat. We’ve never been so excited to drink from fresh coconuts.

Scanning these sites with our new friends was the very best part of the trip to Kosrae and FSM. We can’t wait to share the data with everyone.

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