Using Unmanned Aircraft for Airborne Science: An Introduction

Presented by:

Brenda L. Mulac
NASA Liaison, FAA Unmanned Aircraft Program Office

Student Airborne Research Program (SARP)
UC Irvine
13 July 2009

• Unmanned Aircraft 101
– What is a UAS? – Types of UAS

• UAS and Science Applications
– – – – – Why use UAS for science Applications Instrumentation Example past missions Current and Future NASA missions

• Challenges to Using UAS
– Technical – Regulatory

Unmanned Aircraft 101

Unmanned Aircraft 101:

What is a UAS?
• Unmanned Aircraft System
– Aircraft and payloads (the UAV) – Command and Control System (ie GCS) – Communications architecture
Beyond Line of Sight UAV

Line of Sight

User Community


Control System

Unmanned Aircraft 101:

Types of UAS
• Various sizes and capabilities
UAS Wasp Aerosonde Viking 400 Ikhana Global Hawk Wingspan 0.72m 2.9m 6.1m 20m 35.4m Endurance 0.75hr 30hr 10-12hr 24hr 30hr Payload ---5.3kg 30kg 1360kg 907kg Speed 14m/s 26m/s 29m/s 113m/s 172m/s

NASA Global Hawk

AAI Aerosonde

NASA Ikhana

Unmanned Aircraft 101:

Types of UAS
• Different Pilot/Control types:
• Remote Control (RC)
• Standard hobby style


Remotely Piloted

Unmanned Aircraft and Science Applications

UAS and Science Applications:

Why use UAS?
• Dull Dirty Dangerous
– Some missions require long, repetitive, precise flight lines
• Fault line mapping • Topographic surveys

– Flights into extremely remote areas
• Arctic ice applications

– Flying through volcanic plumes – Hurricane boundary layer flights

• Long duration missions
– Diurnal cycle – Hurricane monitoring – Plume tracking

• Slow speeds – flux measurements

UAS and Science Applications:

• Some earth science applications identified by scientists
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Repeat Pass Interferometry Cloud and Aerosol Measurements Stratospheric Ozone Chemistry Tropospheric Pollution and Air Quality Water Vapor and Total Water Meas. Coastal Ocean Observations Active Fire, Emissions, and Plume Assess. O2 and CO2 Flux Measurements Vegetation Structure, Composition, … Aerosol, Cloud, and Precipitation Dist. Glacier and Ice Sheet Dynamics Radiation - Vertical Profiles of Shortwave... Ice Sheet Thickness and Surface Def. Imaging Spectroscopy Topographic Mapping Gravitational Acceleration Measures • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Antarctic Exploration Surveyor Magnetic Fields Measurements Cloud Properties River Discharge Snow – Liquid Water Equivalents Soil Moisture and Freeze/Thaw States Cloud Microphysics/Properties Focused Observations – Extreme Weather Forecast Initialization Hurricane Genesis, Evolution, and Landfall Physical Oceanography Tracking Transport and Evolution of Poll. Clouds/ Aerosol/ Gas/ Radiation Inter. Long Time Scale Vertical Profiling of Atmos. Global 3D Continuous Measurement Transport and Chemical Evolution

UAS and Science Applications:

• Radars
– Synthetic Aperature Radar

• Lidars • In-situ measurements
– SO2, Ozone, temperature, pressure, humidity

• Particle measurements
– Video Ice Particle Sensor (VIPS) – Particle counters

• Pyrometers, radiometers • Etc

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions - Barrow
• NSF-Funded research in Barrow, Alaska conducted by CU and Aerosonde NA
– 5 year effort 20002005 – Ice mapping – Atmospheric measurements – Cloud physics – Proof of concept

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions - Barrow
• Summer 2002 Deployment • Infrared pyrometer on Aerosonde • Scales of variability in SST better understood

J. Inoue, J. Curry, “Applications of Aerosondes to high resolution observations of sea surface temperature over Barrow Canyon,” Geo. Res. Let., vol 31, L14312, doi:10.1029, July 2004.

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions - Barrow
 June 2004 deployment focused on melt pond mapping and characterization over Beaufort and Chukchi Seas Several hundred pictures taken of sea ice during various stages of melt GPS data associated with photographs used to co-locate on MODIS footprint Flight pattern: 10 x 10 km box Digital photographs overlapped along and across track Designed to cover ~400 pixels of MODIS footprint at 500m resolution Mosaics of photos June 13, 2004 flew 2 boxes

      

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions - Barrow
Region of Aerosonde flights



MODIS band 1, 250m resolution

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions - Barrow

Mosaic of aerial photos

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions
• Aerosonde Flight into Hurricane Noel, 2007 • First UAS flight into a hurricane • Low level flight in boundary layer
– 200 to 1000ft in altitude

• Penetration of eye wall • Over 7hr of data • Determined data more valuable than aircraft
– Aircraft was intentionally ditched in the ocean

UAS and Science Applications:

Past Missions

UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions
• • NASA Global Hawk first mission GloPAC First demonstration of the Global Hawk UAS for NASA and NOAA Earth science research and applications Pacific Ocean and Arctic flights Aura validation Exploration of trace gases, aerosols, and dynamics of remote UT/LS regions Sample polar vortex fragments and atmospheric rivers Risk reduction for future mission (e.g., hurricanes reconnaissance)

• • • • •

UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions
Stratospheric tracers H2O Herman, JPL O3 Gao, NOAA ESRL Long-lived gases 1) N2O, SF6; 2) CO, H2, CH4 Elkins, NOAA ESRL or CFC-11, CFC-12, Halon-1211 UV-Vis spectrometer (column NO2) Janz, NASA GSFC Aerosols CNC (0.008 - 2 µm) Wilson, Denver U FCAS (0.09 - 1 µm) Wilson, Denver U UHSAS (0.05 - 200 nm) Kok, Baumgardner, DMT Cloud properties (lidar) McGill, NASA GSFC Microwave Temp Profiler (MTP) Mahoney, JPL Meteorological parameters Bui, NASA Ames MVIS (camera) Myers, NASA Ames AMS (multispectral scanner) Myers, NASA Ames Dropsondes (under development) Fahey, NOAA & NCAR

UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions

UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions
– SIERRA UAS flights out of Svalbard, Norway (going on now!) – Arctic sea ice characterization – Instrumentation:
• MicroASAR • Laser altimeter • Meteorological sensors (PTU) • Microspectrometer

UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions



UAS and Science Applications:

Current and Future Missions

Challenges for Using Unmanned Aircraft For Science

The Challenges:

Technical Challenges
• Technology is maturing, but still not extremely reliable
– Platform experience and reliability – Sensor development

• Sensor technology
– Miniaturization and automation of sensors

• Data storage and data relay
– Require either on-board storage or ability to relay data to ground real time

• Airframe icing in the Arctic
– Same issues as manned aircraft

The Challenges: Regulatory US Airspace Structure Overview

US Airspace Structure:

Oceanic Airspace
• Oceanic regions regulated by ICAO • Begins 12nm off US coastline • Different Flight Information Regions (FIRs)
– FAA provides services in FIRs – ICAO delegated authority to FAA to apply rules and regulations

• Bulk of Oceanic is Class A (5,500ft up to FL600)
– Below 5,500ft is Class G

US Regulations:

Public vs Civil Aircraft
• All aircraft must comply with FAA Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) • Civil aircraft (airlines, general aviation):
– Required to obtain airworthiness certification from FAA
• Compliance with FAA standards for manufacture, maintenance, etc

• Public Aircraft (government owned)
– By law are not required to comply with FAA airworthiness standards – Must have airworthiness certificate to fly in NAS
• In-house airworthiness process

US Regulations:

14 CFR 91
• Title 14, “Aeronautics and Space”, Part 91 “General Operating and Flight Rules”
– General, visual, and instrument flight rules (VFR, IFR) – Equipage, instrument, and certificate requirements – Required maintenance

• Created with manned aircraft in mind UAS do not or cannot comply to a significant portion of 14 CFR 91 at this time

Current Methods of Access
• Certificate of Authorization (COA)
– Method available to Public Aircraft only
• Federal and State government including universities • Provide their own airworthiness statement

– Approval given case by case – Provides access to specific areas with limitations and requirements – Expires one year after approval date unless otherwise noted – Can take up to 6mo to receive approval

• Experimental Certificates for UAS
– Available to commercial companies for testing aircraft – Rigorous airworthiness review by FAA – Certificate grants access to specific areas with tight restrictions for operations

The Challenges
• Lack of standards and regulations
– Grounded civil or commercial UAS activities – Experimental Certificate process
• Takes about 1 year to complete • Very restrictive

– Small UAS Rulemaking activity ongoing
• Addresses UAS up to 55lb (~25kg) • Process will take about 3 years • Limited to visual line of site and daytime operations

– Public aircraft not as affected because self certify airworthiness

The Challenges
• See and Avoid
– 14 CFR 91.113: “When weather conditions permit, regardless of whether an operation is conducted under instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.” – Biggest issue for public aircraft – Cannot rely on manned aircraft to watch out for UAS and move out of the way – No technical solution currently available

See and Avoid:

Example Problems
• UAS flying at 25,000ft; Generator fails during flight, battery life only 45minutes
– Need to land a soon as possible, therefore must leave Class A airspace and enter Class E airspace
• ATC no longer providing services, including separation

Question: How does UAS ensure risk of collision with another aircraft is mitigated? • Big Sky Theory not applicable
– Lots of general aviation in Class D, E, and G

See and Avoid:

Example Problems
• Manned aircraft declare an emergency, ATC creates “hole” in sky
– Cooperative versus uncooperative aircraft – Emergency dictated by threat to souls on board aircraft – Pilot on board can “steer” around potential obstacles and avoid populated areas on the ground

Questions: What constitutes an emergency on an unmanned aircraft? How do UAS steer clear of obstacles and populated areas on the ground?

• Significant potential for using UAS for earth science to fill data gaps • Past and current UAS missions demonstrate capability and potential • Challenges to flying UAS for science are significant and require additional work

Any questions, please contact me:

Thank you!

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