Calling underground

The ongoing saga of the 33 trapped miners in Chile is the latest reminder not only of the dangers of the mining industry, but also the importance of establishing communications with trapped survivors. Lockheed Martin hopes to improve underground comms with new technology that can transmit wirelessly through the earth.
The technology - dubbed the MagneLink MCS (Magnetic Communication System) - is a wireless, through-the-earth communications system that Lockheed Martin says provides emergency voice and SMS connectivity at depths of 1,550 feet or greater.
According to a company statement, the system works "by transmitting magnetic waves through the earth without the transmission wires and in-ground infrastructure currently required to communicate via standard radio transmissions."
Lockheed Martin recently conducted a successful test of the technology at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Test Mine in the US. The company says it's working with the US Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to certify the equipment for use in mines.